When I was the president of the Nashville chapter of the National Organization for Women in the late 1980s, Metro was in the midst of a sex-for-grades scandal at the police academy and pregnancies at the women’s prison.
Fast forward 20 years later and the sexual coercion still exists in the police department, as evidenced by an officer’s recent admission to participating in two sexual encounters in his patrol car while on duty in 2006.
We have always encouraged women and children to respect police officers and seek them out for assistance when needed. These types of incidents reflect on all Metro Nashville police officers and severely denigrate women.
While no one can be held responsible for the actions of this officer, the department and the Chief have the authority to make it blatantly clear this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
Many would like to extend the benefit of the doubt that the two acts in this officer’s patrol car were consensual. The fact of the matter is that it will never been known since he was badged-up and in police uniform; yielding a position of power over the subject’s freedom who performed the alleged sexual acts on him.
At least one reported incident involved a disorderly patron who was reported to have been under the influence of alcohol or other substances that required a ride home. When potential impaired judgment is coupled with police power, the concept of “consensual sex” is highly suspect and questionable.
Hopefully, there will be a strong message that this type of sexual behavior will absolutely not be tolerated — under any circumstances. No woman in this city should ever be coerced into a sexual encounter with an on-duty police office. Women (and men) in this city demand this abuse of power be dealt with seriously.
Thanks to Governor Bredesen’s administration, the Department of Safety now deals a heavy blow to those in the Tennessee Highway Patrol caught with their pants down while on duty. Metro, the mayor and the police chief should take a lesson and follow suit.