Haslam Unveils Comprehensive Public Safety Strategy

Thursday, January 05, 2012 | 08:21am

Multi-year action plan resulting from collaboration of 11 state agencies

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a comprehensive, multi-year action plan designed to improve public safety statewide. 

The Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group, which includes commissioners and representatives from 11 state agencies, submitted the plan after months of meetings with more than 300 public safety professionals and stakeholders across the state.

The three goals of the public safety action plan are to significantly reduce drug abuse and drug trafficking; curb violent crime; and lower the rate of repeat offenders.  There are 11 objectives and 40 action steps outlined in the plan, all specifically linked to those goals.

“Keeping our citizens safe is one of state government’s primary responsibilities,” Haslam said. “This action plan is a detailed road map that addresses some of our toughest safety challenges head on.  I am proud of this group – whose members bring a number of different perspectives to the table – for working together to recommend meaningful solutions.  They are coordinating their efforts and moving in the same direction to implement this plan.”

While it is a multi-year strategy, the subcabinet working group expects to launch approximately 20 of the steps in 2012. Several of these steps include:

  • Making improvements to the current prescription drug data base to make it easier to identify abusers;
  • Developing regional alliances with other states to tackle prescription drug abuse;
  • Placing non-violent drug addicts into drug court treatment programs;
  • Imposing tougher sentences for certain types of gang-related crimes;
  • Enacting tougher sentences for gun possession by those with prior violent felony convictions;
  • Realigning under the Department of Correction the supervision of adult felony offenders to include probation, parole and community corrections; and
  • Mandating incarceration time for repeat domestic violence offenders.

Eight of the identified action steps are already underway. Some of those steps include:

  • Development of a real-time database to track the purchases of pseudoephedrine products (commonly used to make meth);
  • A statewide meth lab clean-up system;
  • Development of a new anti-meth communications campaign;
  • In-depth training of all state road troopers on drug interdiction; and
  • A pilot effort in Shelby County to create a one-stop shop for assistance and services to inmates returning to the community.

“While we have seen an improvement, Tennessee continues to have a violent crime rate far above the national average and the highest among southeastern states,” Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who chairs the working group, said. “This plan addresses many of the underlying factors that lead to crime in our state and takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the problem.”

The Public Safety Subcabinet Working Group includes commissioners of the departments of Safety and Homeland Security, Mental Health, Children’s Services, Correction, Health and Military along with the chairman of the Board of Probation and Parole, the directors of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (Department of Transportation), Office of Criminal Justice Programs (Department of Finance and Administration), Law Enforcement Training Academy (Department of Commerce and Insurance) and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The subcabinet working group has received additional support from the Tennessee Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and the Center for Non-Profit Management.