Clement takes campaign swipe at Serpas

Friday, August 31, 2007 at 1:47am

Bob Clement on Thursday opened a new front in his mayoral campaign, but his new line of criticism was not directed at his rival Karl Dean. It was directed at the leadership of the Metro Nashville Police Department.

At a press conference in which he called for increasing the number of officers dedicated to patrolling the Hickory Hollow business district of Antioch, Clement said it was time for the police department to come under new leadership, and hinted that he, if elected, would do so by looking to replace Chief Ronal Serpas, who has led the department since 2003.

“A mayor is CEO — he’s a planner, he’s an organizer. He’s the chief architect of the city. And the Chief of Police does report to the mayor,” Clement said.

Clement refused to say directly if he would look to remove Serpas, even though he acknowledged it would be more difficult for him to do so than to remove some other top Metro officials should he be elected.

“The next mayor the first day can have a new deputy mayor, a new director of finance and a new director of law… And under civil service [guidelines Serpas is] protected,” Clement said. “But I’ll say this to you; it’s very, very important that the people of Nashville feel safe and secure. A lot of them don’t feel safe and secure these days.”

In an interview later in the day, Serpas disagreed with Clement’s assessment, and noted that a recent independent survey put the general public’s satisfaction with the Police Department at 80 percent.

Serpas said that regardless of the outcome of the election, he has no plans to step down until the 10 years he committed to serving as chief have expired.

However, at yesterday’s press conference near Hickory Hollow Mall, Clement took direct aim at police policies that have been the hallmark of Serpas’ tenure — namely a higher degree of emphasis on traffic enforcement as means to deter and fight crime.

“I’d rather for our police to be in the neighborhoods and the communities than writing traffic tickets on the Interstate highway system,” Clement said. “The Hickory Hollow business district, which is the heart and soul of Antioch, does not feel safe and secure. We only have one patrol car in the area. And we must do better.”

According to Serpas, police statistics show that officers make less than 8 percent of their traffic stops on the highways that run through Nashville. The department points out that because of its use of “Flex” units and specialized units such as the Gang Unit, there are never any areas of the city that have only one officer on patrol.

Serpas vigorously defended his department, and said that Clement and those who criticize traffic enforcement are ignoring facts.

“I can’t image Mr. Clement’s campaign or Mr. Dean’s campaign or anyone’s campaign would want us to release the nearly 19,000 individuals — that’s nearly 24 percent of all our arrests — we made in 2006 as a result of traffic stops.”

He said Clement was wrong to say that traffic enforcement slows down police response time, another charge Clement made on Thursday.

“Emergency response to people who are in imminent danger has been about nine minutes for the last 10 years and continues to be nine minutes,” Serpas said. “What slows down response is the 74 percent increase in officer activity. And officers are being pulled in so many different directions… None of the top 10 types of calls we’re dispatched to have anything to do with robbery, rape or assault. They have to do with accidents, alarms and asking officers for assistance.”

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By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I agree, gdiafante, the lights are absolutely terrible, especially on and around Murfreesboro Pike/whatever name it changes to closer to town. The red lights on Murfreesboro are way too long and more often than not the side street getting a green doesn't have a single car on it the entire time it's green.

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

And the reason people don't like Serpas is because crime has skyrocketed and entire sections of town (like Antioch) have gone to pot while he was cracking down on speeders.Although, I don't see the meter maid patrol so much anymore. There used to be several speed traps and other such things in the Donelson area where I live, but they've been gone for about a year.However, crime is still getting worse in the city, the PD is still understaffed 70+ officers, and entire sections of town, like Antioch, are still crime hell holes.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

LOL, id

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

For those of you who like Serpas you are blind to your public safety. Clement is correct in:1. Serpas had the Civil Service rules changed to protect him because of how he mistreated some Deputy Chiefs that questioned him. He demoted them and had the rules changed so he could do whatever he wanted.2. Crime is not down in this city, including homicides. It's how you report the crimes. Example..You get shot and are in the hospital, it is listed as Agg Assault. The suspect is arrested and charged with Agg Assault. You die then the charges is never changed. It's a homicide but it's not changed. The Dept lost 50 officers from Jan 07-June 07 and loose 2-5 more officers each week. This said you have fewer officers on the streets of nashille. This causes fewer arrest making the numbers go down so it looks like crime is going down. What you have is fwere officers on the street catching bad people. Meaning more people are getting away with crime and never being caught. 3. You have at most every station 9-12 officers working a night. You have 3 officers maybe 4 assigned to your area. 1 call takes 2 officers on most calls. You have 2 officers left. Another call comes out and you have 0 officers left in your area. These calls could be simple alarms that take away all the officers in your area. When you have 3 officers working and 1 alarm comes in then YES you have one officer. 4. Serpas has told his officers, "I don't care about the call coming in because by the time we get the call the crime has already happened. If you see a traffic stop on your way to a call then stop the car first and answer the call 2nd. When you stop a car and the driver has a Warrant, NO Dl, etc... now they have to redispatch the call causing a delay in your service. 5. Many years ago the minimum number of officers answering your calls was 460 officers in patrol. Since Serpas came the minimum number of officers answering your calls is 365 patrol officers. A decrase of 95 officers. Many officers have moved inside to investigate the crimes instead of catching the criminals. 6. Tickets on the interstates. Yes the number is lower than those on the main roads or neighborhoods. Here is why people. You have 4 officers that work the interstate system. The rest work the neighborhoods/main roads. You are never going to stop a wreck from occurring. You must educate the public about how to avoid crashes to slow them. Slowing people down can help reduce the injury crashes but tha's it. 7. Serpas and Purcell have ruined this city. The dept is hiring continuously because people are leaving at alarming rates. People can't take off from work. People are being suspended or fired for their opinion. It is lead by intimidation within the dept. Example: If you are offered a suspenion and you refuse the number they are offering. Then the number goes up until you take the amount they wanna give you up to termination. Although policy says you have the right to a hearing before the chief if you disagree. The Chiefs are telling people if you come up here your getting x amount of days or more. Your punishment is decided before you ever get a say. I'll stop now but could go on for days. People Dean is a hand picked protege of Purcell. Clement is not. People are pushing Dean and he is trying to buy the election. Clement is correct in his assesment of your public service. Sometimes the truth hurts. Vote for Clement for a better nashville.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

You can find flaws in any police force, if you think Serpas is so bad, and I don't, who should be in there? Who could do a better job? I'll stick with Serpas and his willingness to try his best before putting someone else in there. He tells it like it is.

By: foresthills_girl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I live in Forest Hills and never ever see a cop. You might say that the crime rate of a neighborhood dictates its police presence, and this is a low crime neighborhood, but don't I pay property taxes just like everyone else? Where is my protection and my patrol?

By: ActiveCitizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The morale in the Metro Police Department is the lowest ever. The ruthless management style demonstrated by the present administration is not the type of leadership that motivates officers do do a good job. They are better off "not taking action" than getting into trouble with the Office of Professional Accountability that actually sets up entrapment situations to enable them to place charges against officers that want to get into "trouble". In a police department with that mentality how can officers be expected to have any respect for the Chief or his key staff members? Officers must make quotas or be punished. If they voice opposition to intimidation they can be suspended or fired. Officers are leaving the department in disgust and the new officer recruiting problems are directly related to the Chief’s reputation not pay issues. Management by fear and threats does not make a good police force.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Must make quotas or be punished? LOL! Sure hope you have some facts to back that up. If a citation it was deserved.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It's clear that many here don't like authority figures, much less have respect for them.

By: adamzero on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Oh come on! Metro sets up speed traps--that often contribute to the danger of driving on the freeways or roads. They hide in places like the bottom of Old Hickory where it drops down the hill to I-40 west of town. You have to ride your brakes to keep within the speed limit! Serpas doesn't have traffic cops out monitoring truly dangerous areas such as the Highway 100- Highway 70 split or White Bridge-Charlotte or a host of other places where a traffic cop could help. I've heard that Metro has cops standing almost out in the road on Briley Parkway during rush hour with their radar guns. Clement has hit on a real issue here. And the Dean folks know it. And Serpas knows it. It seems to me that Dean is doing a lot of "reacting" lately while Clement is acting (i.e., setting the campaign agenda).

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1, with all due respect you are lost. If you think Serpas is doing such a great job and people don't respect authority, blah..blah..blah..then go join the force. Thats what I thought. Serpas tries to set people up to be suspended. He sets secret traps on people. If you don't think there is a quota then go ask people who know or do a ride along in your area with a cop. They are told to get 2-3 stops a day regardless. No one says you have to write a ticket but don't get your stops and watch what happens. People are loosing their days off, cars, etc.. for not getting the quota. Call your local police station and ask how many officers were on the street in your area on the three seperate shift. Not combined. On each shift. When you need help call Serpas. He hasn;t answered a call in this city YET. He was found to have violated Federal Laws in New Orleans. He was part of the most corrupt police dept in US history, New Orleans, in which he actively participated in the corruption. It's not hard to find the information. He pulls smoke over your eyes. He says what he wants you to hear. Go pull the stats of every crime in nashville, not just the ones he wants reported. Do you have free speech at your work force? Police don't. I agree that police should be held to a higher standard than most citizens. However, even police have rights. The administration continually violates those rights. Should you be forced to take a breath test when your downtown with your friends having a beer, just because your a cop? Should you have your car searched without any legal right, just because your a cop? I would hope not. It has happened. Go check the Federal lawsuit filed because of it. You violate policy if your viewed in public drinking alcohol, even if your on your own front porch and people know your a cop. If you think I'm lying then go ask to see the 12,000 pages of policies they have. I'm not dogging Serpas but he is the one who brought those policies in and uses them as part of his dictatorship. Go look and get away from the TV. Clement is telling the truth. He just brought it out to the public.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gobucs, if you can do better, then apply for the job. If not, then your extra long nonsense posts are moot.

By: ActiveCitizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1Are you Serpas or just a member of his staff?

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1, I see it up close everyday....

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Active, try to respect other opinions. gobucs, like I said, apply for the job if you can do better!

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1..What job would you like for me to apply? Chief? Police? I see it everyday

By: dick658 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1Are you that blind do you live in an ivory tower or what?Here is an exampleYou are a patrol officer you have been for lets say 20 years, you know the people in your zone the good people and the bad people.You come to work at lets say the evening shift there is 9 other officers (10 all together) there is 6 areas that need covering that means 4 of the other officers are put on assignment to write tickets or serve warrrants. You go get into your car log in on the computer and see that there is 10-25 call pending that has not been took care of by the previous shift. You get sent on a lets say a domestic call (one of the most dangerous calls) the complainant just wants to report that she/he thinks she/he seen an ex boyfriend/girlfried in the area of his/her home. You and the car in the next zone over respond, the back up on their way to help you sees an offense of someone driving with expired tags, so they check out on the stop, now you are by your self no big deal been on these calls lots of times the person coming to back you up ran up on a good stop that means he makes his/her stats (dose not loose his/her car and semi crappy days off) you handle that call and check back in and there is still 8-15 more calls for service. Then the tide turns you are sent to back up a car in a zone over from yours and you see a good stop, loud music from a vehicle or no tail lights you know a good traffic stop to get you some tickets so you can keep your car and semi crappy days off. You check out and advise the car you are going to help and they get in trouble at the call, how would you feel++++????? Because of your need for that paperwork (ticket) a fried got hurt. Now go back to the part where you had been here for 15-20 years you knew that we used to have a traffic and motorcycle division to write the tickes and alll you had to do was answer your calls and back up the officers next to you. TITAN1 is any of this sinking in with you or are you still just seeing what the great leader has told you???? Sorry for the long post

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

LOL! dick, may the best whiner win, you or gobucs! LOL!

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wallace..Good Post. You have just said what Clement said. Let's worry about our neighborhoods first. I agree that speeding kills anywhere but neighborhoods is were our kids play, not the interstate.

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1 you are a hipocrit. Your the one crying about no one understanding your message and you want others to respect your opinions. Respect, you need to learn.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

gobucs, you are damn funny! LOL!

By: dick658 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan I am sorry for you I sleep well so should you

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

dick, you are as funny as gobucs! I hope you sleep well too! May chief Serpass be at your door!

By: ActiveCitizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TITAN1I respect your right to express your opinion, however, I just differ 180 degrees from your opinion on the matter of Chief Serpas.I have lived in this city for 68+ years and know hundreds of police officers and retired police officers. I believe they know what they are talking about.I do not believe you are showing the respect you are requesting from other posters when you accuse folks with different opinions of being whinners. If you are going to resort to childish name calling then expect others to throw it right back at you.As for "Maybe the ones you talk to are not happy because they are lazy and the chief wants them to do their job"That, of course, is possible. It is also possible that they are 100% truthful. It is also possible that you have not been privy to a lot of information about the metro Police Department under the Serpas reign.

By: 37205Democrat on 12/31/69 at 6:00

AC. I appreciate your opinion, but don't think the mayor can do a thing about it. It's all talk and a waste of a vote to cast it on this one issue alone when the big picture is what counts. I have no doubt Clement will do something or say something to embarrass this town. He already has.

By: peaceonearth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Vote for Karl Dean, not Bob Clement.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

AC, I have lived here all my 52 years, and firmly believe that chief Serpas is the BEST police chief we have ever had. He tells it like it is, that is why some do not like him. I will continue to back him and I will not vote for either canidate. I will let you and those like you choose the evil one to lead our city. I will have no part of it.

By: austinelrodray on 12/31/69 at 6:00

For those who choose not to vote: "Bad politicians are sent to office by good people who don't VOTE!"
"3409

By: Dean_DECEPTION on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks gobucs for your post.VOTE FOR A BETTER NASHVILLE! VOTE FOR CLEMENT!"For those of you who like Serpas you are blind to your public safety. Clement is correct in:1. Serpas had the Civil Service rules changed to protect him because of how he mistreated some Deputy Chiefs that questioned him. He demoted them and had the rules changed so he could do whatever he wanted.2. Crime is not down in this city, including homicides. It's how you report the crimes. Example..You get shot and are in the hospital, it is listed as Agg Assault. The suspect is arrested and charged with Agg Assault. You die then the charges is never changed. It's a homicide but it's not changed. The Dept lost 50 officers from Jan 07-June 07 and loose 2-5 more officers each week. This said you have fewer officers on the streets of nashille. This causes fewer arrest making the numbers go down so it looks like crime is going down. What you have is fwere officers on the street catching bad people. Meaning more people are getting away with crime and never being caught. 3. You have at most every station 9-12 officers working a night. You have 3 officers maybe 4 assigned to your area. 1 call takes 2 officers on most calls. You have 2 officers left. Another call comes out and you have 0 officers left in your area. These calls could be simple alarms that take away all the officers in your area. When you have 3 officers working and 1 alarm comes in then YES you have one officer. 4. Serpas has told his officers, "I don't care about the call coming in because by the time we get the call the crime has already happened. If you see a traffic stop on your way to a call then stop the car first and answer the call 2nd. When you stop a car and the driver has a Warrant, NO Dl, etc... now they have to redispatch the call causing a delay in your service. 5. Many years ago the minimum number of officers answering your calls was 460 officers in patrol. Since Serpas came the minimum number of officers answering your calls is 365 patrol officers. A decrase of 95 officers. Many officers have moved inside to investigate the crimes instead of catching the criminals. 6. Tickets on the interstates. Yes the number is lower than those on the main roads or neighborhoods. Here is why people. You have 4 officers that work the interstate system. The rest work the neighborhoods/main roads. You are never going to stop a wreck from occurring. You must educate the public about how to avoid crashes to slow them. Slowing people down can help reduce the injury crashes but tha's it. 7. Serpas and Purcell have ruined this city. The dept is hiring continuously because people are leaving at alarming rates. People can't take off from work. People are being suspended or fired for their opinion. It is lead by intimidation within the dept. Example: If you are offered a suspenion and you refuse the number they are offering. Then the number goes up until you take the amount they wanna give you up to termination. Although policy says you have the right to a hearing before the chief if you disagree. The Chiefs are telling people if you come up here your getting x amount of days or more. Your punishment is decided before you ever get a say. I'll stop now but could go on for days. People Dean is a hand picked protege of Purcell. Clement is not. People are pushing Dean and he is trying to buy the election. Clement is correct in his assesment of your public service. Sometimes the truth hurts. Vote for Clement for a better nashville. "

By: 37205Democrat on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Uh, D–D. You and go bucs copied and pasted the same talking points. Are they the same ones Mr. Clement carries around?

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Titan1 is the kind of citizen that Serpas loves....A gullible soul with good intentions and a small pocketbook.

By: tenhawks on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Stop relying on the government. You have a right to arm yourselves and if there have been home invasions in your 'hood I suggest you buy some guns and protect yourself because the police only show up after the fact and that might be too late for you.

By: metrocop1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Chief keeps saying crime is down, why not ask for the raw numbers and you do your own math!!!!! If anybody would really look at what he is saying, who cares that the crime "rate" (based on percapita) is down compared to 1976? Didnt Nashville gain a citizen or two since 1976? Crime is up and he keeps blowing smoke spouting off statistics that nobody can refute. Does anyone watch the news? How everyday someone is shot, stabbed, robbed in Nashville, Yet, crime is down??????? Again I say, ask for the raw numbers and do your own math. He says that crimes are cleared at a higher rate by arrests and "exception" than EVER BEFORE. Does anyone know what "by exception" means? It means, we cant solve it so we just close it out! OK so we can close out more unsolved crimes than we did before to get the numbers up!!!!!!!!!! Anyone who has ever had statistics in school can make numbers do what you want. Again I say, ask for the raw numbers not his fancy % stats that he can rattle off. Tell me how many robberies we had last year and how many we had this year, I can add/subtract. We are told to "look beyond the stop

By: Dean_DECEPTION on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks, MetroCop!

By: gobucs on 12/31/69 at 6:00

EXCELLENT Post MetroCop....Do I work with you? I'll be at his house first... Meet me there code 3....People haven't figured out why he was RUN out of Washington Police Yet...Maybe they'll see the light once Clement gets elected...GOOOOOOO CLEMENT

By: Garrick on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yeah exactly Clement: Serpas needs to go. He is wasting time, energy, money, effort, etc., etc., etc. by trying to shut down bookstores and sex shops, putting cameras in the few parks that have not been closed, and other things too numerous to mention. His prejudice against the huge population of men who have sex with men wastes resources as we merely move on to a new territory as we always have and always will.

By: Muzhik on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Getting rid of Serpas is enough to get my vote for Clement!