Recently, Metro Nashville Police (MNPD) Officer Josh Hausman was injured on the job, when a suspect stabbed him in his left hand – and after some stitches at the hospital was at home recovering within a few hours of the incident. He had surgery yesterday to repair some ligaments in the hand, but is expected have a full recovery. While we wish officer Hausman the best in his recovery, we want to take a deeper look at donations and gifts in situations like these. Why would the be acceptable in some situations and not others? Where does that line fall? Some are apparently even approved by the MNPD since they facilitated some of the gifts when called for questions about how many in the family and logistics when a restaurant donated a large meal and gift card to the officer.
On any given day in Nashville could you, as a citizen, walk up to an officer and hand them $50 in cash and say “use this as you need it, thank you”. How about if you worked for the District Attorney’s office, that prosecutes the officer’s cases after they make the arrest – would it be proper for them to walk up to an officer and hand them $50 cash money to “help with bills”? Certainly these instances would seem to go against any ethics policy? As a general rule, this could create the perception that cash was being given for a favor, whether it actually was or not.
What if the officer you gave $50 cash to pulls you over in a traffic stop a few weeks later – would he be more or less inclined to issue a citation or arrest, or let you by with a warning? Situations such as this should make any officer not accept donations. So, the question becomes – why is OK for these donations to be made online and be “acceptable” when in person they would likely be refused without question? Is is just because the was injured on the job? Certainly it’s common for a ‘bucket’ to be passed around the office (to other police officers, etc…) but the general public making donations directly to an officer and his family is something that is new in recent history.
All of this has come about as someone has set up a GoFundMe in the Officer’s name (reportedly by a friend of the family, Rhonda Lewis Hagar) – to collect donations/gifts for this officer because she claims he will “be out of work for a while” – making it seem as if he is not being paid for his on the job injury as a police officer. We can’t imagine that Metro would not take care of their own, either via workman’s comp or insurance or light duty, etc… We can’t imagine a world in which Metro would leave this officer with all those medical bills when his injury occurred in the line of duty. So if he is still getting some sort of income or salary and is bills are being taken care of, why would it be OK for the public to give gifts to this officer? They are asking for $10,000 dollars for this officer. The text of the request is below.
Here is the description of the fundraiser request:
“Josh was involved in an incident earlier this week here in Nashville while working and protecting the citizens of Davidson County.. Doing his job that he took an oath to do! Something he loves to do. On Monday night, 4/11/16 while answering a call. He was cut/stabbed in the hand. The suspect is still at large. Josh was taken to the hospital to get his hand stitched and will now require surgery for damage to the tendons in his hand. He will be out of work for a while. In the meantime he and his wife just closed on a new house. This was supposed to be a very happy time for them, but his injury has now created some hardship for his family. They have 3 small kids!!! We are trying to help them move into their new home over the next couple of weeks and get settled in. This is also help with any other bills they may incur. Josh does his job knowing that each day he is leaving his wife and children at home, like every other officer, not knowing what the next call he answers has instore[sic] for him. If you can help them out, the link is here just click it and do your thing! “
Take a look at this Donation, publicly listed on the GoFundMe site, from Jenny Charles, Nashville ADA:
So where the line drawn? On any regular day we could not walk up and hand this officer $50 in cash as a gift, but just because he was injured it’s suddenly ok? Is it OK because it’s online? Is it OK because it’s to a friend of the family and then that friend donates the gits(s) to the officer? Does that pass the ethics test? Let’s take this up a notch – one of the donations is from Assistant District Attorney Jenny Charles – a person is in a position to prosecute cases that officer Hausman makes arrests for. Is that proper or improper? I’m sure a good defense attorney would have a field day if Hausman arrested a suspect, and Charles prosecuted him, and the public record of the donation came up, especially if it’s not reported by Hausman. Certainly that’s a case that would be interesting and likely reviewed if it was not outright dismissed. As you can see she didn’t make the donation as a personal matter, but rather in the comments made sure to note that she was part of the DA’s office in Nashville and that it was done on behalf of her professionally.
Another company, Mission BBQ, contacted MNPD to facilitate details in order to make their donation – of both a monetary gift card and food for the officer and his family:
We asked some people about this article before publication, and almost all of them had the same question – just how much does a police officer make in Nashville for their salary? So we have included the salary ranges below that are current via the MNPD website:
What do you think Nashville? Is it OK and proper to donate gifts (cash/food/other) to officers because they are injured, or at any time just out of the blue? Is it only proper during these times, or any time, or never at all? Did the ADA create a conflict when she gave money to the officer’s GoFundMe campaign. Is the GoFundMe skirting any ethical issues since it’s going to a friend of the family first, then to the officer, ever though all names of people that donated are available to the officer and the public on the website? We’d love to hear your thoughts – sound off in the comments or on our Facebook post!