Council members question Chief Serpas’ management decisions

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 11:01pm
Chief Ronal Serpas

Two Metro Council members took issue with several of Police Chief Ronal Serpas’ management decisions during a Metro budget hearing Tuesday.

Among the decisions that drew complaints was the lack of an outside audit for Metro Police crime statistics and the use of ‘take-home’ cars.

“I don’t believe anybody in this government needs a take-home car unless they’re subject to be called-in in an emergency situation,” said Metro Councilman Michael Craddock, calling the car a “perk.”

Serpas and his top seven aides all have take-home cars paid for by the Metro Government. Serpas defended the $2.64 per day expenditure per car, saying all of the top staff must be on-call 24 hours a day.

The chief was at the hearing as Metro Council and the Mayor’s office weigh next year’s budget.

Beyond the issue of take-home cars, Councilman Jim Gotto questioned whether the police department shouldn’t have an outside audit of the police department’s crime statistics.

“When you’re using that system and you’ve had problems other places, it just seems to me that just for the perception of the public — and even the officers — that it’s a good idea to have someone outside the department look at what we’re doing and make sure we’re doing it correctly,” explained Gotto.

Serpas defended his decisions, firing back at Gotto that all of the police department’s numbers were available for any organization that wanted to crunch them. And he went on to say that questioning the department’s numbers was akin to accusing police officers of lying.

“We have multiple ways of checking data against the commanders that they don’t even know is being checked,” Serpas said. “That’s one of the ways to ensure there’s integrity in the information.”

He also said that the department randomly surveys 700 victims every year to make sure the police report matches the victim’s account.

“I doubt very seriously that anybody in the Council has read what we’ve actually published on how to audit data and be a national leader in auditing data,” Serpas said.

The exchange between Serpas and Gotto was heated at times — a reaction that Gotto questioned after the hearing.

“Quite frankly, I don’t understand Chief Serpas’ getting agitated about that …If I had confidence that everything was fine, I would welcome and internal audit,” Gotto said.

Serpas used the budget hearing to report some numbers that show crime is down for the fifth consecutive year in 2008 — with violent crime down 5.2 percent and property crimes were down overall 1.5 percent.

The chief said he continues to encourage traffic stops as a way to prevent crime, a practice that continues to draw complaints. Police officers averaged 5,732 vehicle stops per week last year, up from 2,424 stops per week in 2003. Officers wrote tickets in 53 percent of those stops.

The budget hearings Tuesday also included reports from the Sheriff’s Office and Nashville Fire Department, and the issue of longevity pay remains a concern for all of them, directors said.

However, all said they wouldn’t be able to reinstate longevity pay from within their own budgets without laying off more employees.

Police and Sheriff’s departments are particularly concerned about fleet reductions as well, the Council learned.

Serpas said the police fleet’s budget is expected to be cut by about $700,000 and the Sheriff’s office nearly $119,000. However, both of those figures were disputed by the Metro Finance department Tuesday.

According to the Mayor’s proposed budget, the Police fleet was only supposed to be cut $450,000 and the Sheriff’s only $56,000.


12 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 5/27/09 at 8:25

I would guess Darren Hall had more to do with crime statisics then the Chief of revenue production by deporting over 5000 ciminals in 2 years.

His statement of $2.64 a day for cars is obsene/intentionally deceptive. Thats a little more a gallon of gas.

In essence Serpass is bribeing the city officials with our money and on the backs of hard working citizens. The department has become little more then meter maids on wheels. Yes crimes are solved but at what cost and how many more crimes could be prevented if all that time wasn't spent with traffic stops?

He is a cash cow to those addicted to spending other peoples money.

By: bfra on 5/27/09 at 8:49

According to this article, the police chief isn't capable of telling the truth, which isn't news. He is being way overpaid and needs to GO live off of taxpayers somewhere else.

By: TITAN1 on 5/27/09 at 9:10

Keep up the great work, chief! All people that do a great job have their jealous naysayers. If they think you are lying, make them prove it!

By: JeffF on 5/27/09 at 9:51

I cannot believe I have stood up for him. He just retreated to the fail-safe for police officers, accusing others of questioning the morals of people who put their lives on the line.

Listen, the council people are not questioning the morals of police officer, just management.

And sorry, there is no such thing as an emergency that would require a departmental accountant to get out of bid and rush to the officer.

Don't hide behind the officers of the MPD. Be a Metro department head and stand up for your decisions. Your defensiveness is stupid. Take your lumps just like every other department.

By: Magnum on 5/27/09 at 11:23

I'll prove it Titan. Even if they drove $15,000 cars for 15 years at zero percent interest, it would still cost $2.73 or so a day, and that doesn't even include fuel, maintenance and repairs, tires, insurance, etc.

They must drive $8,000 cars for 25 years and get 60 miles to the gallon. Oh wait, but he wasn't factoring in all of the ownership costs was he. I'm sure they don't sway the crime stats in their favor either...right?

By: bfra on 5/27/09 at 12:04

Anybody that was so gung-ho for spitman, couldn't have a very viable opinion!

By: WayneJ on 5/27/09 at 12:37

Nice to see CP pick this up as Pravda on the Cumberland doesn't appear to have as much as one word on it. Obviously they're supporting the concept of RASREP (Ronal A. Serpas Revenue Enhancement Program) with all the picky traffic stops. True enforcement would find the illegals the sheriff's department is deporting without having to resort to stopping any vehicle that steps the least bit out of line. This hire isn't giving Nashville the image as a progressive city and only adds to the reasons we can't keep high-paying employers from leaving Davidson County for the adjacent counties.

Of course the Tennessean doesn't help with the image issue either. Good work CP!

By: frank brown on 5/27/09 at 2:21

If I had a choice of ridding the city of the homeless or Ronal Serpas I would have a very difficult time making that decision.

By: tv8527 on 5/27/09 at 5:39

Titan you kool aid drinking Sycophant. I wish I had a nickle for every time I had seen you be a cheerleader for that p.o.s Serpas & any other thing metro does to screw over the taxpayer. Serpas is a lying sack of S@#t ! I have been saying this for the past 6 years, ever since he pulled our neighborhood patrols & our gang problems skyrocketed. He needs to go...the sooner the better.

By: TITAN1 on 5/27/09 at 8:02

barf, I am never sure of which name you are going to post under

By: TITAN1 on 5/27/09 at 8:02

barf, I am never sure of which name you are going to post under

By: TITAN1 on 5/27/09 at 8:12

tv8527, you must be one of these red light running idiots that has been busted by metro! The chief has done more for Nashville than any previous police chief! BTW, idiot, he has done more against gangs than anyone before him! Stop your whining and do your part!