Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Marsha Blackburn held a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement Monday morning in Franklin, discussing a proposed juvenile database, more resources for those with mental health issues, and other topics relating to making law enforcement function as efficiently as possible.
Brentwood chief of police Jeff Hughes said suicides seem to “happen much more frequently now than [they] did in years past,” and that the sheer amount can be a strain on police resources.
“I’ve got children and friends, and a couple of friends with spouses that have committed suicide,” Blackburn said. “One of my best friend’s husband committed suicide, and it is, to me, just so devastating.”
Blackburn expressed her understanding of the issue and the drain on police resources it can cause, reminding Hughes of the newly passed law that would see the potential development of a new three-digit emergency number, used exclusively for mental health crises.
Signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 14, the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act was co-sponsored by Blackburn, along with two other U.S. congressmen.
What Chief Hughes has observed in Brentwood regarding suicide is even worse across the state. Tennessee saw an increase of 24.2 percent in the number of suicides from 1999 to 2016, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also discussed was the idea to possibly instituting a juvenile database, in order to better help law enforcement when dealing with juveniles.
“We recognize that every juvenile [doesn’t] need to be incarcerated,” Hughes said. “But, if the officer on the street [doesn’t] have any way of knowing who they’re dealing with, it inhibits us on the front end and on the back end. If the officer doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, or what that person’s been involved in, it affects their discretion.”
Hughes went on to say that most juvenile courts in Tennessee use different information logging systems, and that the database would help streamline information sharing, as well as aid in courts implementing more informed and productive decisions with juveniles.
An ongoing issue seen throughout Williamson County is the amount of car burglaries, which Hughes said is where a significant amount of gun thefts occur.
“I’m ashamed to admit it, but they’re getting a lot of their guns out of Brentwood, because these folks leave their guns in their cars,” Hughes said. “They’ll leave their cars unlocked. We’ve had a lot of guns stolen out of Brentwood.”
Blackburn said this was just one of many discussions had with law enforcement over the years.
“What I appreciate is that through the years, we have worked so diligently to address the trafficking issues, the drug issues… we’ve been sitting down for a long time having discussions,” Blackburn said. “Community safety is vitally important, just as our national security is vitally important, and to continue to have their thoughts on how best to help and serve them, I think, is important for us to do.”
“We appreciate all that she has given law enforcement,” Hughes said, “and look forward to continuing with her, in whatever capacity that may be.”
Early voting will continue through November 1. For voting locations in Williamson County and further details, click here.