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Community leaders demand answers on Antioch police precinct construction status

<i>WSMV</i><br/>After a string of violence in Antioch
After a string of violence in Antioch

By Brendan Tierney

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — After a string of violence in Antioch, community leaders are looking for answers as to why a police precinct still has not been built.

Metro Nashville records show that project management on a Southeast Police Precinct to serve Antioch began as early as 2016. The city purchased the site of the former K-Mart and Food Lion buildings on Murfreesboro Pike in 2018, but the design of the police precinct didn’t start until earlier this year.

Metro Councilwoman Tanaka Vercher said the Antioch area has prolonged police response times and not enough of a police presence to deter criminals.

Vercher was initially excited about this ninth police precinct building, hoping it would fix that problem. However, she can now not get information on the project and has no answers for her constituents asking why it has been delayed so much.

“The growth isn’t slowing. The growth is accelerating,” Vercher said. “We’re growing exponentially. When you look at any other area, we remain the largest area with the least amount of services.”

“It’s a simple request for us, in that we are taxpayers,” Vercher said. “It is not too much for this city, our city, to invest in just the basic services that our tax dollars are paying for. That is public safety.”

The city has spent millions of dollars on the project, including $15 million in the 2021 budget. However, the only work completed so far is demolishing the old K-Mart building and putting up a large fence around the property.

The old Food Lion building was renovated and turned into storage and office space for the Davidson County Election Commission. The open parking lots around the facility were used as a COVID-19 testing and vaccine site until the end of June and now sit empty.

Vercher was last told that the project would not be completed until 2024.

A spokesperson for Mayor John Cooper told WSMV the project is currently in the design phase and is set to break ground in Spring 2023. According to the spokesperson, the project is still on schedule, and the pandemic did not delay it. Instead, Metro Police is focused on ensuring enough staffing to support having another precinct.

“We will never be a successful city as it relates to affordable housing; we will never be a successful city as it relates to educational outcomes until we get the dynamic of public safety right,” Vercher said. “It is all related.”

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