Last weekend’s white nationalist rallies in Tennessee didn’t go down in infamy — but they may be remembered fondly in law enforcement circles. Just how large was the police presence?
An estimated 300 officers in Shelbyville and more than 400 in Murfreesboro, officials said. While the total cost of rally security hasn’t yet been tallied, the agencies involved say their keeping of the peace could turn their plans into a model for other states to copy.
Counter-protester David Clark, with Shelbyville Loves, said he had doubts on the eve of the rally, but they dissipated.
“These barricades — they just went up overnight, and that’s beautiful,” he said Saturday. “That made me feel better. You know I had a lot of questions how they were going to secure this place with people just walking up from every different direction … but now … it’s going to keep everybody in line and lined up.”
He was right: No injuries and no damage reported by authorities.
In turn, hundreds of residents have heaped praise on local law enforcement for showing out in such numbers, and for coming up with a plan. (See comments from Bedford County, Shelbyville, and Murfreesboro.)
“Perfect teamwork. It was just beautiful. Unbelievable,” said Michael Greishaber, a roofer from Shelbyville who wrote his thanks on police Facebook pages and spoke to WPLN.
“Personally, I thought there was going to be a lot of people going to jail,” he said. “I knew they’d stop the violence … I was just really impressed about how much of a control they had on it.”
The outcome in Shelbyville wasn’t without huge effort, investment and coordination among 17 police agencies, said police Lt. Brian Crews.
“It’s something that we had not trained for here ourselves … as far as crowd control or riot training or anything of that nature,” he said. “We did specifically reach out to other departments that did have training.”
In addition to multiple local agencies, other officer assignments included more than 100 agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, five Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officers, and Metro Nashville’s horse-mounted patrol. There were also helicopters, a TBI airplane and heavily armed officers plainly visible in elevated positions.
The Tennessean estimates a law enforcement cost of more than $100,000, and the state plans to gather a tally.
For Shelbyville’s department of 42 officers — whose other largest event is the annual Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration — there’s never been anything like it, Crews said.
“I’m confident that we will receive calls from other agencies when they prepare for other events in the future, just like we reached out to other agencies,” he said.