Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LiberFreddio Gets Gubernatorial Responses on Mall Security; Although They are Lukewarm

Liberadio's and Salemtown's Freddie O'Connell got two responses from a previous letter requesting that State Government increase security at Bicentennial Mall. One was the standard bureaucratic two-step from Governor Phil Bredesen's office:

Date: November 14, 2007 9:11:46 AM CST
Subject: Responding to your message
Dear Thomas,
Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns. Your comments were greatly appreciated, and I will be sure to forward your message to the Department of Environment and Conservation for review and response.
Again, thank you for taking the time to write. I hope to hear from you again on other matters of importance to you.
Warmest regards,
Phil Bredesen
The other was the smallest of stodgy steps forward from the Bicentennial Mall Manager:
From: Ask TNStateParks <>
Date: November 14, 2007 9:17:36 AM CST
To: "Thomas F. O'Connell" <>
Subject: Re: Public Safety in the Bicentennial Mall

We appreciate the interest in security at the Bicentennial Mall State
Park and would like to take this opportunity to provide some facts
regarding the security and operation of the park. We hope this
information will help clear up any misunderstandings that exist relative to the amount of security provided routinely by our staff at
Bicentennial Mall State Park.

1) Our staff of six, including the manager, provides security solely
at this park from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week (the staff also provides historic and educational programming for groups, including school children and the general public).
2) Bicentennial Mall, Long Hunter and Radnor State Parks are the only parks in Nashville that have commissioned officers assigned solely to a specific park site.
3) Significant dollars have been spent recently to upgrade and assure excellent lighting in Bicentennial Mall, especially on the sidewalks inside and immediately adjacent to the park on 6th and 7th Avenues.
4) We will explore the possibility of placing emergency security *call boxes* at the park in the near future. (However, it should be noted that up until about three years ago, a public telephone was located at the site, but removed due to the extreme numbers of false alarm 911 calls received by Metro Emergency Communication Center operators. These 911 calls were *free* to the user).
5) We will also provide improved signage at the park relative to closing hours, safety reminders, etc.
6) We certainly would entertain the idea of starting a Park Watch Organization if so desired by the immediate neighbors.

In closing, we are further committed to improving the communication between our Park Ranger staff and the Metro Police Precinct responsible for this area of the city. We would hope to create a move cohesive working relationship for the betterment of all concerned.

Mike Cole, Bicentennial Mall Park Manager, may be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 741-5280.
Wait a minute. Back up to #2. Only 3 parks in Nashville have commissioned officers? What about Park Commissioner Jim Fyke's argument to me almost two weeks ago that if we put certain security devices in some parks, we have to put them in all?! By the Commissioner's own expressed logic, Bicentennial Mall should not have any commissioned officers at all unless all of the other parks can have them, too! Or was I just being strung along two weeks ago? Hmm.

Next, let's be real clear about what Mr. Cole is promising; he is not promising more security measures like "call boxes." He is promising to study them. Why do I hear "death by committee" in that commitment? Probably because I would assume that someone somewhere in state government has probably already done some studying of security issues in state parks, including the viability of "call boxes." Isn't such a thing what we pay them for?

Finally, notice that he puts the onus for Park security right back on the neighborhoods, despite the fact that no houses that I know of actually touch the Park's edges. What is he suggesting that we do? Form patrol units to walk around Bicentennial Mall at 2:00 in the morning blocks from our homes? And who is going to walk around Bicentennial Mall at 2:00 a.m. with so many people telling us that people in the park at that time deserved to be raped or assaulted? Which of us is going to leave the relative safety of our homes to walk around a park with new signs warning people that the park is closed overnight effectively making it open to criminals overnight with no more security than a bunch of us walking through it? This guy can't be serious.


  1. Aw, man. I thought they were actually responding to me when I got EXACTLY those same replies.

    It occurs to me, too, that the 6 member team that the Commission says is securing the Bicentennial Park for 18 hours a day (presumably two 8-hour shifts?) must be pretty darn busy if they're also doing educational tours and outreaches... the last time I was there, the same person who did the educational program ran the register at the store there, too.

  2. I got the same canned response from