Welcoming the newest group of police recruits, Chief Ronal Serpas greeted the trainees with perhaps the scariest scenario an officer might face in the field — an officer down.
Monday morning at the Police Training Academy in Bordeaux, Serpas along with Mayor Karl Dean and Metro police leadership greeted the 46 trainees of the latest recruit training class saying that the discipline they’ll learn in the coming weeks is the difference between safe and unsafe neighborhoods.
Serpas looked back to last June when Joseph Jackson, a Mississippi prison escapee, allegedly shot Sgt. Mark Chesnut during a traffic stop, landing Chesnut in critical condition at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
“What we don’t want you to wonder about and what did not happen when Sgt. Chesnut was shot, was 1,365 police officers going in 1,365 different directions.”
Serpas charged the recruits with learning the importance of not acting outside of the chain of command and not acting as an independent operator, because at the most dangerous times for the city, the chief said it’s the disciplined and systemic reaction of his department that ultimately leads to safety in the city’s neighborhoods.
“That’s why what you’re going to go through is so important,” Serpas said. “That’s why there’s so much discipline on the range; that’s why there’s so much discipline in the classroom; that’s why there’s so much discipline in your physical training."
Dean also told the recruits their role in the city would be cultivating the idea, both in fact and perception, that Nashville is a safe city.
“You play a key role in this because if we have a safe city … then this city will thrive,” Dean said. “And when the city thrives, I think we’ll have good schools strong neighborhoods, and it’s just fundamental to what we need to be doing.
The training class began its 22-week long training program Monday and is tentatively set to graduate Aug. 5.