On Sunday, the Tennessean published a story about the alarmingly high rate of dropped domestic violence cases in the city. This is an enormously important story. Police officers should not be closing cases for lack of witnesses when there are witnesses willing to testify, just for starters.
Nate Rau and Brian Hass sorted through a lot of data and interviewed people and did a lot of work. And they found that the looming problem officers cautioned the Scene about two years ago has pretty much turned into an epidemic.
Take a look at this story. Here's a critical part:
Another cop says traffic duty takes his detectives away from work that could save lives.
"I have to furnish my detectives to go out on Friday and Saturday nights in uniform to do traffic stops," he says. "They are overworked on cases as it is and now they have to put their victims on hold."
This is especially true with Metro's domestic violence unit, which deals with the city's most damaged and vulnerable victims. So far this year, the unit has investigated 10,386 cases — with a staff of only 14 detectives. It's the kind of overwhelming caseload that ensures some incidents will only get cursory attention. But once a month, these detectives are nonetheless pulled from battered wives and partners to write traffic tickets.
That's right: Two years ago, officers were saying that pulling them off domestic violence cases was a problem.
But Interim Chief Steve Anderson is already signaling that he's going to play this like they just didn't know.
From the Tennessean's story:
"This whole inquiry of yours is making us look at this and, again, it's one of the things that I'm asking an internal audit to review it," Anderson told The Tennessean. "It's something we're going to take a look at. It could be something as simple as a training issue."
If they didn't know, it's not because people weren't telling them. It's because they weren't listening — not to the media, but worse, not to their own officers.