Belle Meade, the small incorporated city inside the larger Nashville Metropolitan area, has a population just shy of 3,000 people, with an average income of household income of $195,208. Protecting this small city is a police department that currently employs 15 sworn police officers. After reviewing the last 27 months of published activity logs from the department, we noticed a disturbing trend that black and homeless people were being “escorted” out of the city by police officers, even when no crime had been committed or suspected. As of the last census data, there were 5 black people in the entire city of Belle Meade, TN.
Given the current political climate, it may not surprise you that when rich white people see black people in their city that is near 100% white residents, they would call police. We’ve seen it dozens of times in national stories. What may surprise is what the Belle Meade Police Department does on some encounters with black people in their city – they escort them out of the city limits.
We reached out to Police Chief Tim Eads to ask about what was described in the police logs, and he says that his officers are simply giving the individuals rides that they need. He says perhaps some of the people were on vans and dropped off to solicit door to door, and were given rides outside the city as they were now done for the day. However, those statements don’t always align – such as this incident below, in September of 2017, where a resident reported a “possible homeless person” allegedly looking into the back of a truck in a parking lot. A Belle Meade police officer responded, checked the person for warrants, and upon finding none, and that no crime had been committed, he “warned” the possible homeless person to “leave the city limits”, as seen in the log below, provided by the City of Belle Meade:
It’s certainly not illegal to be without a home, and we were unable to find any state or local law that would require a homeless individual to leave the city limits or jurisdiction. The fact that the abhorrent treatment of homeless individuals was so blatantly documented was surprising – but not as surprising as what we found next.
In reviewing the self-published Bell Meade Police Department’s “crime updates”, we found case after case of police officers escorting black “suspects” “out of the city limits” (both their own words), often when no crime was committed or charged. They simply dropped them off at the edge of the city, even at churches, grocery stores, and bus stops. Occasionally a citation would be issued, and then the suspect was removed from the city via police escort. Even when black “suspects” were not “escorted” out of the city limits by police, the log entry often notated that the “subject left the city limits” – which would indicate that the police followed and/or observed them doing so, and noted such. A great majority of these “suspects” were door-to-door solicitors – and while nearly all of the black individuals were often escorted away, were unable to confirm any instances of white “suspects” being escorted or followed out of the city for door-to-door soliciting, just given warnings.
On October 4, 2107, a resident on the 600 block of Lynwood Blvd called Belle Meade police to report that a black man and woman were soliciting door to door. The police blotter indicates that “both subjects were transported outside of the city limits.”
Just one day later, a resident on Tyne Blvd called to report another black man walking on the street, soliciting door-to-door. Belle Meade police issued him a citation for soliciting without a permit, and say that he “left the city limits” – though they don’t state if they transported him, or followed him to document his departure.
In September of 2017, a resident on the 4400 block of Iroquois Ave reported a young black man selling magazines door to door, walking down the street. Belle Meade police made contact with the man, in his twenties, and he was “escorted out of the city”
Later that same week, police responded to another black male selling magazines, and the blotter simply indicates “subject left the city limits”, without stating if he was escorted or just followed to document his departure.
On September 9th, 2017, a Walnut Drive homeowner called Belle Meade Police about a “black male with dreadlocks” soliciting door-to-door. You guessed it, police note that he “left the city limits”.
There are dozens more examples of black people being escorted out of the city, while white people soliciting were simply warned. We’ll include some below:
Not every single black solicitor was escorted out of the city. In the call below, they were simply warned, after a resident called about “two nicely dress[ed] black males at her front door”:
Residents are quick to call the Belle Meade police when they believe they see a homeless person in their small city. In November of 2016, this black man had police called on him for simply walking to work:
In January of 2017, the Jewish Temple (who is the largest single entity caller to the BMPD) called Belle Meade Police to report a black man was at their door, asking to speak to a preacher. Belle Meade officers responded and transported the man to a church outside their jurisdiction.
While not every interaction with a black or homeless person by the Belle Meade Police Department resulted in the person being ‘escorted’ from the city – the amount that were was simply overwhelming, especially when compared to the fraction of a percentage of white individuals receiving the same treatment. The boldness of the department posting these interactions in their weekly crime updates either indicates they’re oblivious to the appearance of this practice, or simply just don’t care – as the department only answers to its citizens, which are 98% white, per the most recent data.