Nashville Police Academy Will Stop Using Racially Charged Textbook

Mar 16, 2017

The Nashville police department is getting rid of a 31-year-old, racially charged textbook that is issued to every academy recruit.

The decision comes after WPLN pressed the police department on its use of Tactical Edge, a book covering high risk patrol, in a story that aired Monday.

In a budget hearing on Thursday, Mayor Megan Barry confronted Police Chief Steve Anderson about eliminating Tactical Edge completely. Anderson says the textbook, which teaches an aggressive approach to policing, should have been gone a long time ago.     

“That should not have been there, and I’ll just describe that as an extreme oversight,” he said.  

“So that is no longer part of our training materials and is no longer part of what we do?” Mayor Barry asked.  

“It is not,” Anderson replied.

Anderson said the department is “painfully aware” of the controversy the book stirred up.

Tactical Edge, published in 1986, opens with images of dead police officers and black men in prison. It goes on to tell officers to be wary of an increasing population of minorities, which are quote “disproportionately associated with criminal violence.” And claims that public schools are producing a “new kind of child” with criminal tendencies.

The police experts WPLN spoke with all said the book has no place in police curriculum. And that its aggressive message is disturbing and disruptive in a time when Nashville police, and departments around the country, are trying to move away from such tactics.

The type of mindset and culture Tactical Edge espouses, “can be very damaging” and “create the kinds of problems that troubled police departments throughout the country have gotten into,” said Matthew Barge, the co-director of the Police Assessment Resource Center, which helps departments across the country on reform initiatives.

Capt. Keith Stephens, who's in charge of the Nashville Police Academy, said initially that he didn’t believe the book was controversial. But added that the department uses only some sections of Tactical Edge for topics like crisis response, stress management and mental conditioning.

“The part that you are talking about is not what is instructed by the Metro Nashville Training Academy,” Stephens said.