The North Precinct was built 7 years ago, about the time we moved into Salemtown, to provide better security, more crime prevention for North Nashville neighborhoods. It stands to reason that building that new precinct represented a commitment by the previous Mayor's Office to devote public safety resources more equitably.
So, I do not know what to make of a report just coming from the Belmont-Hillsboro association that the more affluent suburban neighborhoods south of I-440 will be getting a new precinct seemingly at the expense of the North Precinct. Mayor Karl Dean's plan was announced at a crime prevention meeting held at Christ the King Catholic Church Monday night:
Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson made a surprise appearance and gave us the news that the police force will be adding two more precincts in 2012, one of which will cover the area between Hillsboro Road and Nolensville Road and will likely be located on 12th Avenue. This represents the potential for an increased police presence in our area, better coverage through reduced size of current North, Southwest and Hermitage precincts, and supports Mayor Dean’s focus on Nashville citizens’ safety.
I have a difficult time seeing how moving police officers out of North Nashville into the burbs maintains focus on the safety of North Nashville citizens' safety. A February news media report indicated that 2 new police precincts were planned for 2012 without reference to the 12th Av/Granny White Pike area, and it quoted the Dean Administration as saying that the precincts would be staffed by new hires rather than moving existing hires out of other precincts:
Last year, Metro police reached full staffing for the first time in five years, said Janel Lacy, the mayor's spokeswoman.
"It's a testament to the mayor's commitment to public safety, given the economic environment we're in," Lacy said. "You might have heard him say in speeches before that while other cities are laying off police officers due to budget cuts, Nashville is doing just the opposite."
But if officers are moved south from other precincts in 2012, well after this year's mayoral elections, will the police force be fully staffed? Does reducing the size of the North Precinct in 2012 actually amount to doing the opposite of laying off and cutting budgets?
Can anyone who attended that meeting and who might be reading this shed more light on this story?
UPDATE: I received the an e-mail from MNPD Captain Harmon Hunsicker Thursday morning that included the following comment on what was meant by the size of the precinct reductions in 2012:
Several of the comments posted in relation to your posting about reducing the size of the force in North Precinct are accurate. Each time a new precinct is added, the area (geographic) of responsibility for existing precincts are reduced. This allows the precincts to serve smaller areas and have their resources closer to those they serve. The intent of adding more precincts is better and closer delivery of police services. The police department is aggressively hiring and has done so for several years; we need quality people to keep up with attrition and keep our precincts fully staffed.
Both Jay Voorhees and Carol McCullough commented here on Wednesday that the police meant geographical not force size of the affected precincts.