32-Year African American Veteran of the Nashville Police Department

By Tribune Staff

NASHVILLE, TN — Nashville’s eighth police chief is an experienced,  longtime member of the police force, and an African American man who steps into what should not be, but will be, a closely watched and now scrutinized position by the majority press. 

John Drake was selected Monday to become the new Metro police chief. He replaces his friend and mentor, Steve Anderson.  Drake is one of the almost extinct African American men in Metro government chosen for a position of power. 

John Drake, formerly a deputy chief,  has worked for MNPD for 32 years and has been interim-chief since August 2020. Aside from his 24-hour official duties as interim chief, he was also responsible for security for the 2020 presidential debate held at Belmont University, ordering major changes to murder investigations as well as changing search warrant procedures.

Mayor Cooper said Drake had demonstrated during his time as interim police chief the ability to smoothly operate in high profile situations. He also said Drake’s many years of service to the Nashville community, was one just of the reasons he was selected.  

“In this year of crisis, he has been a steady hand,” Cooper said. He added Drake had “earned our trust and earned the job.” Cooper felt Drake did well in his measured responses to citywide demonstrations against systemic racism and allegations of police misconduct, and also had been a steady hand supervising various police responses to COVID-19 situations.

Critics of Anderson have raised questions in regards to how his successor would interact with the Policing Policy Commission, which was established several months ago. Cooper said he felt Drake would be an asset due to his past track record in terms of working with all aspects of the department, notably the areas of investigations, internal affairs, and senior management.

In addition, Drake went on record publicly saying he had no problems breaking with established or conventional policy or actions, and was willing to be involved with ongoing allegations against the department in regards to sexual harassment/misconduct and departmental discrimination. “I believe in change, and in fact, I embrace change,” Drake said. “I am here to tell you that change is coming.” He said he’ll be guided by past policy decisions, but wasn’t totally or always in agreement with them.

He starts his administration with the backing of the Fraternal Order of Police. FOP President James Smallwood praised him in a statement, saying “We look forward to working with him as we strive to provide a safe and peaceful Nashville for all.”

Rosetta Miller-Perry, publisher of The Tennessee Tribune commends the selection of John Drake.  Miller-Perry states that only a dedicated civil servant with John Drake’s 32 years of experience in Nashville will make all citizens feel comfortable with this selection. The Tribune also commends  FOP President James Smallwood, Fraternal Order of Police, for their support of one of their own.