An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens

Dear Franklin Tennessee,

There is something magical and innocent about our quaint little piece of Americana. Visitors from all over the world agree it is a virtually unknown Shangri-La. Celebrities, creatives and families alike are moving here from the four corners of the globe to escape “the real world.” A friend visiting from Toronto who regularly traverses the planet on business told me last week, there are very few, if any, places like Franklin, TN. I agree. I live here. I love it.

But, there is something seriously amiss in this “perfect” little historic mecca. A much older and wiser new neighbor and resident of Franklin mentioned at a recent porch dinner that misuse of taxpayer money and government ineptness is our fault. Why? He says, “Because we do nothing.” We sit idly by and let whatever happens happen.

A resident who recently moved to Franklin from Michigan, another family from Greenwich, CT who just purchased a historic home downtown, and many other of my acquaintances are asking the same troubling and probing questions.

1. What is that monstrous building on Columbia Ave?

2. How much did it cost?

3. Why are there police EVERYWHERE?

4. Is crime really that bad?

5. Why are there not more local tourists in downtown?

Answers:

1. That monstrous building is a Police Headquarters for Franklin, a city which has only 60,000 residents. It is bigger than the Memphis Police HQ, where there are 670,100 residents. Memphis, not Franklin, is the largest city in the state of Tennessee, the third largest in the Southeastern United States and it also has the sixth worst crime rate in the U.S. compared to Franklin which has one of the lowest in the entire country. Shangri-La?

2. The Police Headquarters cost us $38 MILLION Dollars. 38 MILLION. Shangri-La?

3. In Franklin, a city of 60,000, one cannot drive more than four minutes without seeing a Police car (there must be hundreds of them), a Policeman on a Segway, a Policeman on a BMW motorcycle, Policeman on bicycles, Policeman walking in historic costumes, and oh yeah, an old Policeman in an electric golf cart. One only needs sit on the corner at Starbucks or Sweet CeCe’s for fifteen minutes and watch the Police continually ticket downtown visitors. I suppose you could call the traffic tickets a downtown Franklin “shopping tax.” We should warn all who visit Franklin to go ahead and bring an extra $100. to pay the “tax” they are sure to receive. Shangri-La?

4. Crime is not that bad. Franklin has one of the lowest crime rates in America. And it’s not because of the Police. It’s because of the hard working citizens and creatives who are honest and trustworthy and believe in capitalism and free enterprise. Very few people in Franklin have time to commit crime. They are trying their best to do business in a bad economy. But in Franklin, police and government business is good. It’s very good. See #2. Shangri-La?

5. Locals know about the Franklin Police “shopping tax.” And they are smart enough not to come to Franklin unless they have an extra hundred dollars to help finance the new Police HQ and government officials. A downtown restaurant manager was lamenting about the dismally small number of visitors from surrounding communities. Look around. Most of the visitors in Franklin are from outside Nashville. They have yet to pay the “shopping tax.” But they will. It is inevitable. As a local citizen, it is sad to drive a one mile round trip to Kroger to get milk and return to your driveway with a sigh of relief because you did not receive a traffic citation. And by the way, when did the slogan To Serve and Protect on Police cars digress To Enforce the Law? Shangri-La?

There is a fine line between Shangri-La and a Police State.

I find it chilling, as a law abiding, hard working American citizen,  that as I struggle to pay my taxes AND my mortgage during this tough time, a $38 million Police Headquarters that looks like a Saddam Hussein palace appears seemingly without question — when a $16 Million dollar building could have more than taken care of the obvious need for a new headquarters.

I find it chilling, that as we sit in Merridees with our artist mentoring group yesterday morning, we hear the traffic judge and his cronies laughingly joke and ask if any Westhaven (an affluent neighborhood and locally known speed trap) residents were in court this morning, and he disparagingly replies “No, but when Westhaven residents do come in they tend to walk with a certain swagger.” So, beware if you walk with a ‘certain swagger,” and especially if you are Latino, or African-American, and if you are any other creature other than a Southern born and bred Franklin “good ‘ole boy”. Sooner or later, if you visit Franklin, Tennessee, and sooner if you live here, you will be paying homage to the King, I mean, Judge, in his filled to overflowing courtroom.

I find it chilling that suddenly all the Police vehicles now have huge metal “cow catchers”. I suppose this if for the myriad high-speed crime chases. But, unfortunately, the only high speed chase involving Police cars in the ten years I have lived here was witnessing two Police cars chasing each other at over 60 MPH down West Main Street on Hallowe’en as hundreds of little kids screamed and scattered and parents desperately tried to protect their children…from the Police. Emergency vehicles careening high-speed with sirens blaring down Main Street is an hourly occurrence.

I find it chilling that our elected Franklin government officials allow this to happen on their watch. Oh yes, they all blame the previous administration and each other, but any leader with integrity would not allow these things to happen on his or her watch. Period.

And finally, I find it chilling that when the Nashville media was called and asked about an investigative report into the Franklin Police Headquarters – can you say $38 Million…MILLION? Can you say bigger than Memphis? ONLY ONE of the media outlets was courageous or caring enough to do a report. The Tennessean’s Kevin Walters has been the lone voice of reporting. For example:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
By KEVIN WALTERS Staff Writer
FRANKLIN – Posting a $12.3 million proposed budget for 2007, the Police Department will likely have the highest overhead of any Franklin city department for the second consecutive year, thanks to rising costs. For example, Franklin police are planning to spend $59,200 on ammunition alone this year — a whopping increase from the $600 spent last year.

There is a fine line between Shangri-La and a Police State.

A call to action must be issued to Franklin citizens to CHANGE THINGS.

Many people have asked for suggested actions:

  • In the elections, VOTE!!
  • Vote against EVERY “good ‘ole boy” incumbent government official in this election and subsequent elections. We need a change.
  • Make your voice heard. This is no longer a “good ‘ole boy” city. It is a diverse, technologically savvy citizenry.
  • Write letters to the editor, inundate the local media and maximize your blogs, social networks and creativity. Make sure your voice is heard!
  • Support our local downtown merchants. Free enterprise needs our help in SPITE of the local government.
  • Remember to vote. It takes just a few votes to sway the Franklin election. Only 10% of us vote in city elections. Every vote does count.
  • Plan to be conspicuously absent from the May 15 Grand Opening of the new Police Headquarters.
  • Citizens, this is OUR city. It does NOT belong to the government nor the Police. Last time I checked, this is America.

105 Responses to “An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens”

  1. I must admit that for the last two years as I have visited Franklin to attend a conference, I have been amazed by the number of Police cars in such a small city. I have been closely followed by Police cars most nights while driving through downtown Franklin, and as a visitor it is extremely intimidating. I feel hounded into making some kind of traffic offense, which makes me a more nervous driver, concentrating solely on the speedometer and traffic signs at the expense of the rest of my driving, following the letter of the law rather than being a safe driver.

    It really feels like traffic police entrapment and does the town’s image no good whatsoever.
    .-= Mark Jaffrey´s last blog ..Beautiful bougainvillea at MCC =-.

  2. Thank you so much for informing us and bringing this to my attention and everyone that reads it. I am a TS resident who received a speeding ticket, after court and traffic school it will be more than the original ticket, and I was given a ticket in the Franklin parking garage for backing my suburban in the space in stead of pulling it (to avoid my backside having a hit in run for sticking out). I believe downtown Franklin is a little piece of heaven and it is ashamed others are avoiding the area due to this. is there a place to go to see who we SHOULD vote for?
    .-= Sarah Moore´s last blog ..Dont Be Scared. =-.

  3. As a Franklin resident (although not “on campus”, I live about a mile and a half from the square) I’m amazed at how many superfluous police cars Franklin has that we can just leave them sitting in parking lots across town, seemingly as a deterrent to crime. How much does it cost the taxpayer to keep those vehicles in the fleet?

    While I agree with everything you have said, what your post has done more than anything is to convict me that I’m not as active in local politics as I should be. Thanks for that reminder.

  4. I sent this article to the Tennessean I hope others will do the same!

  5. It is very common for people to come late to the debate then blame the media. This is just a sampling of our stories:

    Thursday, September 14, 2006
    Franklin looks to trim a million off police station price
    McLendon: ‘Nips and tucks’ may not be worth it
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — Shelving months of completed design work. Running up thousands of dollars in additional fees. Racking up additional construction delays.
    All that to save $1 million or so on Franklin’s new police headquarters, a project that could cost as much as $40 million.
    Some say it all could happen as Franklin aldermen scramble to pare the price tag on their proposed Columbia Avenue police station.

    Monday, Sept. 11, 2006
    Architect: $37 million for new Franklin police headquarters
    Building committee must balance city’s wants with citizens’ needs
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — It was the news architect James Kennon didn’t want to deliver and Franklin officials didn’t want to hear: Land, street improvements and construction of a proposed state-of-the-art Franklin police headquarters could cost $37 million.
    The final tally balloons to $42 million when extra money is added to cover potential contingencies in construction, according to the first comprehensive tally of the project, which was recently released.
    “I’ve been dreading saying that to you,” Kennon told members of the city’s Building Committee and Mayor Tom Miller during the unveiling of the figures.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006
    Police Department budget shoots upward again Request comes loaded with ammo, overtime overages and more
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — Call the Franklin Police Department’s budget No. 1 with a bullet.
    Posting a $12.3 million proposed budget for 2007, the Police Department will likely have the highest overhead of any Franklin city department for the second consecutive year, thanks to rising costs. For example, Franklin police are planning to spend $59,200 on ammunition alone this year — a whopping increase from the $600 spent last year.
    And that’s not counting any of the cost of the proposed new Franklin police headquarters, which is still in the infancy stages of creation and has not been assigned any fixed budget figure yet.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007
    Mayor wants to scale back $36M police HQ
    Redesign affects costs, politically and monetarily
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — Franklin’s block-long, $36 million police headquarters is too big and too costly for residents’ needs and should be scaled back, Mayor Tom Miller says.
    “I’m not interested in saving a few million dollars,” he said. “I’m interested in saving tens of millions of dollars. The facility is probably twice as big as we need. I think we could have a better design.”
    Miller’s comments cast more criticism at one of the city’s major projects and one that in recent months has weathered its fair share of debate from architects, city officials and residents.

    Sunday, May 27, 2007
    Disputed police HQ gets Planning Commission OK
    Aesthetics, size concerns still remain for some members
    By RACHEL STULTS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — Plans for a new 94,000-square-foot police headquarters are moving forward, despite some planning commissioners’ concerns about the building’s size, scale and cost.
    In their regular meeting Thursday, the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission voted 7-1 to approve a site plan for a new $36 million Franklin police headquarters along 5 acres on Columbia Avenue.
    Franklin Alderman and Planning Commissioner Pam Lewis voted against the proposal.

    Sunday, December 9, 2007
    Mayor wants Franklin police HQ vote delayed
    Schroer says whatever built on land should have economic impact
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    Staff Writer
    FRANKLIN — Days before a crucial vote to decide whether Franklin’s proposed Columbia Avenue police headquarters project finally goes forward, Mayor John Schroer wants aldermen to delay making any decision for at least a month.
    Schroer, a critic of the proposed $36 million project, wants time to make a case for not constructing the three-story, 90,000 building on the now-flattened site near Franklin’s Five Points area downtown.
    Instead, Schroer wants to find new land for the police headquarters and use the
    8 acres on Columbia Avenue for a project that might spur greater economic development.
    “Fifteen years from now we’ll say, ‘Man, we really goofed up,’ ” Schroer said about the city’s plans. “It reeks to me — it screams to me — there’s great potential here. A police station stops that entirely.”

    Monday, February 25, 2008
    Aldermen face police HQ decision
    By KEVIN WALTERS
    FRANKLIN — After months of playing “Will they or won’t they?” about Franklin’s city police headquarters, Mayor John Schroer and aldermen finally have to make up their minds about the project Tuesday night.
    Aldermen will either accept or reject builder R.G. Anderson Inc.’s $26 million bid to construct the Franklin police headquarters, a 93,000 square foot building that will take up a city block along Columbia Avenue. They meet for a work session at 5 p.m. and will vote on the matter at their 7 p.m. session.
    If aldermen reject the bid, Alderman Dan Klatt is warning city officials face increasing the project’s costs and “most assuredly” adding two years to its schedule.
    “It will never be cheaper to construct this building than it is today,” Klatt wrote aldermen in four-page memo. “Construction and material costs are escalating at rates from 10 percent to 12 percent per year.”

    • @Mark Cook, Mark, Thanks so much! This information is what I’ve been searching for. Facts.
      The context of this letter is not to blame the media. Not at all. It is to inform. Better to come in the game late than not at all. I actually did another post April 30, 2009.

      The more facts you can provide, the more helpful it is for our informed voting next week. It is not too late for change. Unfortunately, the search engine on Tennessean.com is impossible to utilize and find facts. The more you can provide, the better. Thanks again!

  6. Hi Randy,
    I know about that search engine. There was a good deal of debate, but once the train was on the track, contracts signed, property condemned, it becomes a matter of record.
    We will be doing an advance on the opening.
    Your post is very thoughtful and interesting.

    • @Mark Cook, Thanks so much, Mark for joining the conversation and for taking time to give us facts. I really appreciate it. I have corrected my statement about the media. I am just trying to figure out how to maximize the technology so that we citizens are better informed. I am very disappointed in myself for finding out about the Police HQ after it was too late. Thanks again.

  7. I moved to Nashville from California eight years ago. I moved to Franklin five years ago and it really wasn’t until I read this letter this morning that I have been so convicted about my responsibility to Franklin. Although I live a quick walk from Main Street and the square, I’ve never made a movement to really take ownership of my neighborhood and am really fired up now. Thank you very much.
    .-= Mike Walker´s last blog ..mpwalker: RT @RandyElrod: New thoughts:, An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens – http://randyelrod.com/YN =-.

  8. As if to prove my point, a Franklin Motorcycle Cop on a BMW, is just now ticketing a soccer Mom in a van in downtown Main St, as I walk and cool down from my run. Can you say “Shopping tax?”

  9. Ah, yes, the police building… I agree, Kevin Walters did a great job with coverage throughout. I’ll also say it’s annoying that links to all the stories are unavailable after 30 days online. Finally, I’ll say thank you for having the courage to share your opinion about the whole thing. It’s refreshing when citizens are engaged.

    • @Knight Stivender, Thanks, Knight. Yes, the stories Mark provided gave more facts than I have been able to find from the countless conversations among the citizens of Franklin. Everyone has a different story. Mark’s comment with news stories shed light on Klatt’s involvement and the lone alderman (Pam Lewis) to vote against the Police HQ. We need more facts. This helps so much!

  10. I really try to obey the traffic laws, and I resent feeling like I live in a police state. Living out 96 West is very stressful. You constantly have to be aware of your speed. God forbid you should let your mind wander and go 5 miles over the limit on 96 West. Don’t get me wrong – again, I have always really tried to obey the speed limit. But it’s gotten really oppressive.

    Our daughter lives in East Nashville and can’t believe how many more police she sees here. Also, younger drivers end up with citations and bad driving records that follow them and raise their insurance rates – over incidents that wouldn’t be ticketed in other areas.

    Almost everyone I know has been either stopped and/or ticketed in the last 2 years. That just seems really high to me for an area where so many people are responsible citizens.

    Thanks, Randy

  11. Mark Chouanard April 28, 2010 at 11:08

    My welcome to Franklin was five years ago when, on our first house-hunting trip to relocate from Minneapolis, I was pulled over by Franklin’s finest in a three car traffic stop for speeding (I’ve never seen that done before). I was the third car in the group of three and tried to appeal the accuracy of using radar on all three cars simultaneously, along with the fact that I was not actually speeding. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone and it cost me $125.00 for my trouble. Thanks for the great post!

    • @Mark Chouanard, Unfortunately, your story is not unique. I host a conference of artists from around the world in Feb. and I try to eat and conduct all our business in downtown Franklin to support our economy and a huge percentage of them go back to their respective homes with a traffic citation. We make our guests and newcomers feel “very welcome!”

  12. Randy, a very thoughtful and caring piece. All politics is local. I might add that if voting out the incumbents, one might want to give very careful thought to the ones being voted in. Our recent national elections might be an example of the cure being worse than the disease.
    .-= Bryan Young´s last blog ..Ashamed of the Church: Calling =-.

  13. This type of run-away spending and fiscal irresponsibility is what happens when the voter turnout is below 10% for city elections. Many of the decisions made over the last 10 years have not been made with any thought for our city’s fiscal health, but have been geared more toward the desires of special interests and personal whimsy. The police station is only one example, and in my opinion not the worst case of waste that the previous BOMA group saddled Franklin with. It is public record who supported the expenditures and people should remember them because many of those responsible will undoubtedly run for public office again.

    I support the diligence of our police force with regard to traffic enforcement downtown. Our city and county governments have seen fit to allow large housing growth west of Franklin without building any (NONE) roads to handle increased traffic. What we now have is all of that traffic cutting through a 100 plus year old neighborhood. What we get are millions of dollars worth of beautification projects that actually impede traffic and injure the ability of local bussinesses to operate. Next time you support a candidate or even vote for one I suggest you find out how they would have voted on the aquisition of Harlinsdale Farm, The Franklin Country Club, and the old Pizza Hut building. The police men and women are not to blame for the Columbia Avenue monstrosity, that blame rests squarely on the lack of interest that Franklin citizens have shown in local politics over the last 12 years.

    • @Dee Peppers, Well said, Dee.

      I totally agree that the police men and women are not to blame. They are simply doing what they are told by their authorities. I have friends that are police officers and they do a great job, but they are the victim of the system and a very small minority of arrogant and unruly officers who give the force a very bad name.

      I also heartily agree that we MUST get out and vote!! Your points are well-taken and very, very important!

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

  14. I noticed this when I was there for the conference in February and again when we were there in April house hunting. On one hand I’m glad it’s such a safe area, but on the other hand it does give me pause in my thoughts about moving there. Especially since we are coming from another small town in the south, where if you aren’t born and bred then you are considered an outsider or in our case a d*** yankee.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I hope the people in the area do get out and vote and make a difference.
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Moving Right Along =-.

    • Michelle,

      Franklin is an awesome place to live and we can’t let this kind of stuff hinder growth. We will get this solved. Move on up here!!

  15. Thanks for a great post, Randy.

    On Monday, I had a little fender-bender on 96, on my way out of Franklin. I bumped into a car in front of me that stopped in the middle of a green light. Even though neither car had more than a scratch, the other driver insisted on calling the police and filing a police report.

    No problem, I thought. Within ten minutes, we were LITERALLY surrounded by three police cars. To their credit, they processed the incident quickly, and I was on my way. They didn’t even ticket me.

    But the mere fact that THREE police cars were available to swarm a fender-bender? I agree with you. We need to through the incumbents out. I’d also like to see the names of the aldermen and women who voted for this monstrosity published!
    .-= Michael Hyatt´s last blog ..Scheduling Time in the “Alone Zone” =-.

  16. Randy- I could feel my blood pressure rise reading this…I am not alone in my observations. We live about 1 mile from town square and I always feel like I’m running through the gauntlet of cruisers. (They especially like to lie in wait by Williams Produce on 96.) And just yesterday I counted no less than six cruisers (?!) between the Peoples Church and the square.

    And yes….the police station….don’t get me started…..

    And how about the sidewalk and meridian work around town? That boggled my mind. The biggest economic downturn and we’re installing pretty sidewalks and new lampposts.

    We love Franklin and have lived here five years; it’s a delightful city. But I too find these changes….chilling.

    Thanks for addressing this!

  17. Hi Randy,

    Fascinating post.

    I’ve never had the fortune or privilege of visiting Franklin, in fact, the closest I’ve ever been is Cleveland, TN – which isn’t all that close at all!

    I completely agree that the police are there to serve and protect the people not oppress and harass them – and something should certainly be done to change some of the things you have talked about, including wasteful overspending.

    However, I would caution you all to be wary of trying to bring in too much change because the very things that make Franklin such a wonderful place can easily be taken away by ‘improvements’ that outsiders bring.

    It is very popular in England for wealthy people to buy homes in small villages away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. They then start campaigns to ‘improve’ those villages by building newer, bigger, roads and even (yes this has really happened) suing farmers for having cows that are too smelly and starting work on their farms too early in the morning.

    Very quickly, the character and uniqueness of the village disappears because the very things that make the villages attractive are the things that are changed to ‘improve’ them.

    I hope Franklin can find a balance between what retaining makes it so great and improving the things that need improvement.
    .-= Peter P´s last blog ..Tech Tuesday – Your Questions Answered Part 1 =-.

  18. Hey Randy- Good observations. I spent some time discouraging many of the beautification projects in Franklin, as there is also another motive playing out… there are many who would like to push the lower income housing community out of Franklin. One way to do this is to make improvements that will eventually effect the property costs in the community.

    Things like: putting telephone wires and electrical wires underground, new brick sidewalks and ornamental light posts…etc.

    The strategy of location: such close proximity to Natchez street and some of the lower income neighborhoods… It is equal parts intimidation and manipulation.

    I agree with the call to action. Thanks for writing!

    • @Dan, Thanks, Dan. I certainly wish that the extra $16 million that was wasted could have gone to improve education and work skills in the neighborhood immediately behind the Police Station.

  19. Honestly, Randy, at this moment I’m not sure I want to even risk coming to Franklin again. It’s just not work the risk because while a $100 might not be much to some people it would be devastating to my family’s budget right now. Avoiding the community would be the safest course of action even though my family loves the downtown area to walk and I love the writing atmosphere at Merridee’s.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Blessings on the back side =-.

  20. A real eye-opener! One violation that seems most ridiculous has been mentioned but bears mentioning again………why on earth is it MANDATORY that one pull in the parking tower front first? Our son was excited about returning home from years in Africa and immediately was cited with a fine for backing into a parking space. Yes, there are signs if you look for them….but most people just don’t expect such a requirement and never notice the signs. Our daughter had the very same thing happen. She lives in Nashville. If you aren’t a resident of Franklin, and are not aware of the peculiar law, you get a sour taste immediately when you return to your car and find a ticket on it. And one day recently I was trying to park on Main Street and as I was getting out of my car, a policeman came by and very sternly (Not at ALL nicely) told me to move my car between the lines……..back it up! I was a far cry from cars at either end and had no idea I was out of line. Sometimes all the local laws are a bit preposterous and seem to border on chasing away potential visitors to our beautiful city. What a pity!

    • @Joanne Miller, I’m afraid some of the Franklin Police certainly need lessons in manners and hospitality. I also have been stopped and treated rudely in front of my wife and daughter for violating a new One Way traffic sign that was angled away from the road and unreadable and had only been installed the day before. The Policeman sauntered back to his car as another Police car came to “help him” give me a warning. He casually began a 15 minute conversation while leaning against his car as we waited. This sort of behavior is inexcusable and unacceptable.

      We MUST welcome visitors to our city. Not ticket them immediately and treat them rudely. We need new leadership! We must vote!

      Agh!

      • @Randy Elrod, One evening my daughter got hit from behind on Mack Hatcher. The woman that hit her wanted to call the police. 45 Minutes later (and now with a dead battery) my daughter was treated with a very condescending attitude from an Officer Smalley of the Franklin Police. He said “Oh, is that all”? and told them he wouldn’t fill out an accident report. He also left my daughter alone on the side of the road with a dead battery in the dark. I don’t have much respect for him! Just sayin’. Oh yeah, any given day I see multiple Franklin Police everywhere except where you need them!

  21. I live in Brentwood, TN. I have made it a point not to meet people in downtown Franklin for breakfast or lunch meetings due to the ridiculous parking ticket I received in the parking garage. I was 2 minutes over the allowable parking time. The signage in the parking garage stating the allowable parking time wasn’t very visible. I definitely don’t need that burden while trying to conduct business.
    .-= Keith Stancil´s last blog ..Byron “Mr Talkbox” Chambers Wins Dove Award! =-.

  22. Although I agree with you about the poor planning and funding of the Franklin’s new police department , Tuesday’s election is not a City of Franklin election . It’s a Williamson County election which had nothing to do with the funding or approval of new Franklin police depart.

  23. Randy,

    Thanks for writing this. As a Franklinite, I will spread the word. One question though — does this mean you’ll be running for office in November?

    • @Mark Varner, Ha!!! You are not the first to ask that. What do you think? Early retirement from mega-church ministry to work in politics?

      I hope I have far more of a legacy to leave in training & mentoring young artists and leaders.

      Thanks for the compliment!! You are too kind.

      We do need to find good candidates for Mayor and Police Chief. Hmmm.

      Can you say Ed Cagle for Mayor? & I’m not sure yet for Police chief….but for sure a NEW one!!
      .-= Randy Elrod´s last blog ..An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens =-.

  24. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Randy. I’m a Franklin resident as well and this shocks me. And I’m a former Memphian, so this story has some extra bite for me. Memphis needs the extra help! Franklin does not. I cannot imagine the conversation where the politicians got together and decided that we “need” a $38M police station. Would not such an outrageous gesture be dismissed immediately as stupid? I guess not… Really, this is abuse. Instead of cutting taxes and giving the money back to US where it belongs, they got creative and found a way to spend it. It goes to show you that even in a conservative town with conservative politics, the political system corrupts everyone it touches.

  25. I have been a Franklin resident since 2001. I had always heard of the crazy Franklin police and my friends told tales of getting pulled over for the most ridiculous reasons (window tinting too dark, driving after midnight, etc). About three months ago, I was pulled over in downtown Franklin for failing to stop at a stop sign at around 11pm. I KNOW I stopped. Then they tried to tell me I was going 27 in a 25. Really?! They continued to ask me questions, such as where had I been, where was I going, how old was I, etc,. I think they were hoping to catch an underage kid, or a drunk person. Fortunately, they saw my clean record and let me off the hook.

    Recently I was driving down the hill on Lynnwood Way, coming back towards Franklin. I was certainly going over the speed limit, and probably did deserve a traffic citation. However, the officer wrote the ticket saying I was going 55 in a 30. When I checked the signs the following day, they said 40mph. I called the police department, asking to speak with the officer to let him know of his mistake. They told me I couldn’t do anything about it, but to talk to the judge in court. My court date hasn’t yet arrived, and to be honest, I’m afraid. It irks me that the very police that pulled me over didn’t even know the correct speed limit.

    In Williamson County, you’d think the least of my worries would be traffic court. But they aren’t. I am constantly watching my back for the obnoxious Franklin police. I know they have quite the building to pay off, and charging me extra for a “crime” I didn’t fully commit is unfair.

  26. WOW! Look at all of these comments! i’ll just add to this conversation to say… I have gotten more tickets in franklin, tn. then any other place i’ve lived. i’ve even heard of some of my cycling friends getting tickets while out on their training rides.
    .-= Spence Smith´s last blog ..My 2010 Triathlon Race Schedule =-.

  27. Robert Michaels April 28, 2010 at 23:55

    Randy,
    You so eloquently bemoan the plight of the poor creatives who must endure the oppressive Franklin Police, and so passionately protest the colossal new police station. You credit the low crime rate to these tender, sensitive creatives who evidently give character and backbone to the fair city and bring civility to the streets. You also have no clue.

    Perhaps I can offer a different perspective, being a “creative” for 25 years – having 25 gold and platinum albums for my work will likely qualify me. But moreover, having served both as a Military Police officer and a Detective for Norfolk, VA PD – I have a unique perspective.

    Your precious creatives benefit from the civil nature of Franklin, the safe environment – because of the professional service of the police. Yet, you dare demean their contribution and credit creatives who would not last a night on the streets. Creatives who might, if talented, be able to write about the work, but I assure you, would not be suitable to take down an armed suspect.

    You and your followers gripe about three cars showing up at a fender bender, but would be the loudest to gripe if traffic backed up. No doubt they write parking tickets, and I’ve received one, but you and your peeps are the first to complain when there are no parking spaces.

    Rather than belittle police, perhaps you might just say thanks. There are a few “creatives” I really enjoy hanging with, who have a more realistic view, but truth be known, I enjoy hanging with the brothers in blue who see real life every day – officers who would risk their life to save your butt despite your ungrateful rant. They get up every day and go to work to protect the lifestyle you enjoy. Rather than make your silly list of questions, why not man up and ask what you can do to make Franklin better. You sit with your mentoring group and criticize, perhaps because you got a ticket, and dare to take credit for the crime rate because of your peers character? Order does not exist without law, not is law effective without grace.

    One groupie mocked police ticketing for windows too dark. Perhaps the writer would be willing to stop a vehicle and not be able to see if the driver is pointing a gun at them. Of course, that silly law might just save an officers life, but impede the desires of a creative who likes dark windows. Perhaps watching a funeral for an officer shot would be preferable.

    You are your cohorts mock the police, but would be the first to hold a press conference for lack of police protection if the victim of a crime. I have long heard people gripe about the lack of police presence. This is a first griping about too much.

    Rather than complain, just write something, paint something, or craft a tune – better yet – say thanks you haven’t been mugged, shot, robbed, or perhaps killed or maimed by a drunk driver. The men and women of Franklin PD work 12 hour shifts and don’t have time for mentoring groups over muffins – largely because off hours are spent at part time jobs so they can care for their families. They just do the work, and do it well. Perhaps if confronted by a criminal, call a creative. sing them a song, cite a poem, of ask them to sit for a painting. Oh that’s right – you will call for a cop, and gripe about the response time.

    Those who are members of the Fraternal Order of Police also serve the community in other ways, like the Shop With A Cop for Christmas and Back to School. The lodge pays for supplies, clothes, and at Christmas, gifts, for children who otherwise would have nothing. So you might see a few at WalMart at those times. Officers do the D.A.R.E. programs, keep schools safe, provide community service to teach self defense. We help our officers in need, provide scholarships, and help hurting families. We get our hands dirty with real life, not with muffin crumbs sitting with creatives pontificating the police, their cars, and their new headquarters.

    As for the police station, perhaps you prefer that officers not have adequate space, room for proper functioning, and space for day to day operations. The building will last for decades, and if you want to compare to Memphis – move there and enjoy that crime rate.

    I have an idea. Why don’t you and your creatives be in the town square for the Police Memorial Service May 12 at 11:00 a.m., where this year a young Spring Hill Officer, Jeremy McLaren, will be honored. Jeremy was killed in the line of duty by a driver who ran a red light and broadsided him. Hopefully it would not cramp your mentoring over crumpets and muffins.

    If you can’t break away, perhaps you might say a prayer for Jeremy’s family, for his brother and sister officers in Spring Hill, and for those of us who gather to celebrate his life and remember his passing. And by the way – there will be several police and their cars in the area.

    Fact is, I am a police chaplain. I am quite proud of those I serve and am honored to have served myself, and to stand with them now. Fortunately, not all creatives think the way you and your cronies do. They are grateful.

    • @Robert Michaels, Wow! Thanks for joining the conversation. I’m thankful for the police and our safety, but very disappointed with the excess of ticketing and the building.

      I’m thankful I have earned the right to enjoy Merridees and to help others by working very hard for 40 years, and obeying the laws of this land for over 50 years.

      I’m thankful this is America and we have the right to totally disagree like this in a public forum.

  28. Eric Anderson April 29, 2010 at 06:20

    At the heart of it, there are two things that propel a community to grow and flourish. They are good schools and safe streets. Franklin has both, because of the FSSD and the FPD. The Franklin Police Headquarters sits on a spot that used to hold a dilapidated old liquor store, around the corner was a junky old warehouse, and a crummy bar that had fights and winos spilling out of it. Not much to add to the atmosphere of beautiful downtown, eh?

    Oh yeah, and there was a young man shot to death right across the street from where the new building is as well, several years ago. That murder was solved within hours, and the assailant sits in prison now.

    There was a time, not so many years ago, when ratty old juke joints and dive bars were on Main Street and around downtown. Those are gone, and have been replaced by cupcake stores and high priced boutiques.

    So, I very much agree with Mr. Michael’s post. Most people that take issue with the fact that Franklin is so safe and serene, due in large part to the high visibility and activities of the FPD, are from other places. I speculate that the places these outsiders have moved in from ARE NOT nearly as safe and serene as Franklin, due in part to high crime.

    Franklin is what it is because of the cooperation between working citizens, a higher than average wage earning base, strong schools supported by the affluent community, and an effective and professional police department. When pieces of this puzzle are missing, the community falls into disarray.

    • @Eric Anderson, I respect your right to disagree and thanks for joining the conversation.

      Unfortunately, I havent sat at Merridees all my life, I have made several trips to the Police State of Kyrgyzstan to work and the citation practice here in Franklin is eerily similar to their country. They just wave you over as you drive down the road and ticket you without reason. Its beginning to feel that way in Franklin. Eerie and disconcerting. Scary. Please take time to read the myriad other comments above–not just Michael’s. Thanks.

  29. Good Morning, Randy!
    I first read your comments yesterday morning and can’t seem to get them out of my mind, so, as much as I don’t like posting, I feel I must. First of all, my husband was the former mayor and was very vocal against building a police station of this size. They definitely needed a new one, but he wanted one that could be added on to as needed, but he did not have a vote in it~only the board. Then, all of the incumbents were voted out, including him. My point is not that he lost, but that the public needs to be informed and then VOTE! Don’t vote out all who are incumbents, just because they are incumbents! That’s ridiculous! What I found as a public official’s wife, is that no one cares about what’s happening until it personally touches them and then they usually get angry and react…and often in an irrational way. Find out if a candidate has the knowledge and ability to see what is best for the citizens/city/county/state and vision for future generations.

    Regarding the police I have nothing but praise. Last week I became the target of a person’s road rage. I thank God for giving me the sense to go to the police station and for the fact that there was an officer outside. They caught the person, but I’ve never been so frightened. (I might add that they did not ticket or arrest the person, but gave him stern warning.) We all have to submit to a higher authority and as far as I’m concerned, the police have the authority to enforce the laws that were written to protect you, me, my family, everyone! Our officers now have 12 shifts~all of them. I know they do more than this, but imagine having to sit in a car for 12 hours for 4 days a week. (I know this is tiring because I have to make long trips to see family.) I’m thankful for our police who serve to protect us and are there to help us.

    The last item is regarding backing into the parking garage. That is for your safety also! Many vehicles have a trailer hitch which can catch the wire along the building. If that hitch catches the wire, it will loosen and damabe the structure/support of the building.

    By the way, I’ve paid my share of tickets, but it really was no one’s fault but mine because I broke the law!

    • @Lydia Miller, Thanks, Lydia, for joining the conversation. Your point is well taken about us voters knowing the candidates and certainly Pam Lewis was one that should not have been voted out for her stand against the Police station.

      But 12 hour shifts mostly giving traffic citations is not necessary. Where do we live? Franklin.

      I’m thankful for our safety but the traffic laws, myriad speeding traps and constantly sapping money from soccer Moms in vans going FOUR miles over the speed limit is unacceptable.

  30. D. Michael Kruggel April 29, 2010 at 08:20

    Randy,

    I would also like to say thank you! Thank you for stating and proving that Franklin Police Officers are actually doing their jobs.

    You know, in a time where morale is low in government jobs, Police Officers are not allowed to vent to the general public, especially in the south, as they are in fear for their jobs if they speak. Yes, I am one of those transplant retired Police Officers that moved to middle Tennessee for the safe area, of which thanks goes to these Police Officers, and to be nearer my family. Family! What an interesting concept. Family is something we, as Police Officers every day, protect. But our family extends to an entire community when we are on the job, not just our spouse and the children that are a part of our home.

    Police Officers every day don a badge that says to the community of which they serve, I am here to “serve and protect” each and every one of you. No matter what the circumstance, No matter what the background, No matter what color of the skin, No matter if we like them or not personally, we are and will always be there to “protect and serve”.

    I challenge each and every one of you that is reading this post or the entire blog, to remember back to when the World Trade Centers were struck on 9/11, there were Police and Fire professionals running to help those citizens in need. In fact, those same professionals were on the streets here in Franklin, Brentwood, Spring Hill, Columbia, and Williamson County that did the exact same thing. Protecting those of which we serve. Did anyone ever say thank you? Thank you for protecting us then and thank you for protecting us now? Probably not, as being a Police Officer is more than just a thankless job, it is sometimes less than that.

    I would like to state that your opinion is not shared by all. During the funeral procession for Cpl. Jeremy McLaren of the Spring Hill Police Department, many of the residents of this county took time out to pull over and stand next to their cars, mailboxes, schools, homes and so on to honor one of our own. However, it shows that he was one of all of our own.

    You know Randy, as a retired Police Motorcycle Officer from a small state west of the Mississippi River, I think they call it California, and actually, I rode the streets of Los Angeles, I had to laugh when you spoke about the Officer on the motorcycle giving a “soccer Mom” a citation. Actually, you stated it as such:

    “As if to prove my point, a Franklin Motorcycle Cop on a BMW, is just now ticketing a soccer Mom in a van in downtown Main St, as I walk and cool down from my run. Can you say “Shopping tax?”

    My guess is that this “Franklin Motorcycle Officer on a BMW” observed your “soccer Mom” driving though a crosswalk barely missing the children that were trying to walk across the streets of Franklin to go home to their own soccer Moms. I guess you think he should have just given a ticket to the children for not giving way to the speeding soccer Mom as she is probably in a hurry to get home to serve that quaint dinner with her own family or that the bad, bad Police Officer should have just given her an escort home. Since you don’t actually know the reason for the citation, it would have been best to ask the soccer Mom why she was getting a citation first than to berate Police Officers for writing a citation protecting the citizens of this community.

    It is also interesting to note that since the headquarters of the Franklin Police Department and Williamson County Courthouse is located in downtown Franklin, you might want to consider that as a reason for an extended police presence rather than think it is a police trap for a “shopping tax”.

    I would like to close this post by saying to everyone, please come to again honor our fallen brother Cpl. Jeremy McLaren for losing his life in February protecting the citizens of his community. There just happens to be this new Police Officers Memorial in front of the Old Franklin Courthouse in the Franklin Square that honors the names of Williamson County Sheriff M. H. Stephens, Williamson County Constable Sam Locke, Williamson County Constable Matt Sullivan, Williamson County Constable Clarence W. Reed and Williamson County Sheriffs’ Deputy Morris Heithcock.

    The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge # 41 here in Williamson County bears the name of Deputy Heithcock to never forget those that perished in the line of duty that went before us. I am proud to be a member of FOP Lodge 41, just as much as those that are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Masons, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Elks and many others, to that honor those have died protecting the freedom of which we all enjoy.

    Fraternally,

    D. Michael Kruggel

    • @D. Michael Kruggel, Thanks, Michael for joining the conversation. I respect your comment. And I strongly feel you have taken what I write out of context. If you conclude that I do not care about Jeremy and his family – you are wrong, sir. I’ve spent my life caring for people as well. Just in a different vocation than you.

      I’m simply disagreeing with the excesses.

      I’m thankful for the good policeman like you that care.

      I feel there must be a change at the top and the excesses remedied.

  31. Robert Michaels April 29, 2010 at 09:03

    Michael is absolutely correct. As for the size of the station, perhaps, just maybe, the City thought it through and build for the future a facility that will suffice for years, building with today’s costs rather than building for today’s needs and spending at a higher cost to add on later. The new building provides for growth as needed. That is a different strategy and perhaps more valid.

    • @Robert Michaels, Thanks, Robert. I suppose you are correct if that projection means that the current generation of taxpayers pay for the next 200 years of growth during this very difficult economic time. somehow it does not add up.

      38 Million dollars.

      Excessive ticketing for over 3 miles per hour.

      Costing Franklin businesses countless dollars.

      That’s what we’re talking about.

  32. Robert Michaels April 29, 2010 at 09:46

    Well Randy, we will never agree. Perhaps we should eliminate tickets and speed limits. Let people get mowed down crossing streets, or perish for lack of traffic control. With citizenship comes responsibility. Traffic control is essential. Sounds like you have sour grapes from a violation. You are right, you can certainly sit and eat muffins. If a child is killed by a distracted or speeding motorist whether in downtown Franklin on on your street, you would complain about the lack of protection. Of course, those who violate traffic laws, like those who are in jail, are always innocent and victims of the police state – at least in their minds. You rarely meet a person who knows they are guilty in court or jail.

    However, in the immortal words of another creative, Bruce Willis, “Somebody call the Wambulance.”

    If you want to complain about a building, fine. Your right. You say you are a caring person, be in the square at the memorial with your possee and celebrate Jeremy’s life, and perhaps, say thanks to the officers that make your sweet life possible without fear of the street. Just a thought – do you resent the military as well. Are you grateful for the freedom you enjoy, like expressing your thoughts openly? From military to law enforcement, your back is covered. Those you complain about would lay down their life for you, and yes, if you break the law, you will meet them there as well, you should.

  33. Randy, I know that you don’t engage on this level but I am highly offended by the condescending nature in the response posts of Michael and Robert above. I hope you’ll give me the chance to respond.

    Gentlemen, I understand that you are a retired officers and you probably grow tired of hearing criticism of police but your response rings of little more than contempt, a dismissive attitude and almost validates the complaints we’re seeing here regarding abusive or oppressive police. Your response sounds like a “how dare you question us?” mindset that does nothing to improve the reputation of Franklin’s or any other police department.

    Your over the top statements like “Perhaps we should eliminate tickets and speed limits. Let people get mowed down crossing streets, or perish for lack of traffic control” absolutely REEK of arrogance and a mindset that you think you’re better than the people to whom you’re responding.

    I spent over 20 years in broadcasting and journalism and dealt with thousands of officers and hundreds of departments across the United States. I would say that overwhelmingly the officers I met were good people, weren’t out to abuse their power over citizens and certainly did not deserve the negative attitudes toward police officers that so many people can bring to the table.

    However, I’ve met several officers who do abuse their position. I’ve seen several departments where the unspoken position was to ticket as many people as possible to keep them under control. I know of one police department in a community I lived in during the 90s that targeted a particular group of people based on their skin color. It’s not something I heard about from someone else. It’s something I saw with my own two eyes.

    Like it or not, there are bad officers. There are departments run by men who enjoy power. Police officers and department heads are human beings. Just because they don a badge doesn’t mean they’re perfect. It doesn’t mean they are never influenced by their biases. It doesn’t mean they can’t be in a bad mood from something unrelated to their job and take it out on people through their job. I’m not saying that’s what is happening in Franklin but to somehow try and claim that these things can’t be happening in Franklin is simply dishonest and insulting to everyone.

    If officers were always above board and honest there would be no need for internal affairs departments or officers. I’m sure you won’t be trying to claim those departments and officers do not exist.

    Could Randy be jumping the gun in the comment about the soccer mom and the van? Sure. Could YOU be wrong that the officer in question isn’t abusing his position? Yes. Just as you come after Randy for not being there you are not there either.

    The fact there are MANY people concerned about this issue might raise a valid concern about why the public sees the police presence not as comforting or a source of pride for the community but rather oppressive and something that will keep people from coming to the community. Instead of the blanket defense of the department perhaps you should come to the table with your years of experience and say something other than “in the immortal words of another creative, Bruce Willis, “Somebody call the Wambulance.”

    Also, your references to the brave men who died on 9/11 and Cpl. Jeremy McLaren are not only out of line but insulting to the memory of those men. Just because someone may see problems within a department or feel that a department may have an oppressive effect on a community does NOT mean they do not have concern for the safety of officers. Cpl. Jeremy McLaren isn’t even a Franklin officer. His death, while absolutely a tragedy, is irrelevant to the subject at hand…the Franklin, TN police department.

    Now, I’m sure you’ll likely want to lash at me as some kind of “creative” who’s just slamming police officers. I’ll add here that my brother is a beat cop in Maryland and works areas that are so drug infested that every single night his life is in a lot more danger than most people will ever know. I’m all in favor of things that will make it safer for him so that he comes home every night to his wife and my niece. I’m just as in favor of every single officer in Franklin, Nashville, Spring Hill, Hendersonville or any other community coming home to their family as well.

    I just think that officers who abuse their position, officers who enjoy exercising the power and officers who create an impression of oppression are just as dangerous to my brother’s life as darkly tinted windows in a car. It creates a negative impression of departments and officers and immediately my brother is mistrusted when he shows up on a scene. That puts him in more danger. So your insulting, condescending comments toward Randy and others here who have questions about the department because they questioned things concerns me because it adds to that atmosphere of distrust that endangers my brother.

    I do want to thank you both for your service and again state that in my experience the overwhelming majority…I would say upwards of 95% or more…of the officers I’ve met and dealt with were professional men with outstanding integrity. However, they all did not meet that standard and a blanket condemnation and dismissal of people with issues is not fair to them, to the police department and the community as a whole.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..The mob moves into child prostitution =-.

  34. wow. That’s all I can say. Fascinating conversation – especially in light of the fact that Franklin has more police than Tulsa Oklahoma.. Our new mayor cut our police force by a third this year and will not rehire because of budget. I agree Randy, it sounds like over kill on Franklin’s part — and I’ll leave my social conscience about the rich get more protection than everyone else for a different day. (Smirk) — That sounds snarky, doesn’t it? and I don’t mean it to really. We looked at housing in Franklin — Randy those houses go for three times our house . and are half the size or smaller. I don’t perceive it as a town for creatives, it’s a town for wealthy creatives. There is a difference. Or is there? The privledge of living in an artsy district comes with a lot of prices.

    Tulsa is no better in that regard – Yuppies and DINKS bought up the old houses, renovated them and now our new art district is building flats and open studios that go for three times the cost of our 2,600 sq foot home and have half the living space. — Brookside, Cherry Street, Brady – our art districts are outrageously priced – and you know where the police spend most of their time? Protecting those areas. We burbanites, are on our own. This isn’t just a Franklin problem – it’s a national problem. — But what seems different about ya’ll is this doesn’t sound like the public ever got to vote on it. We did with our 2025 renovation project, but you guys didn’t, did you? That’s broken in my opinion. A project with that kind of sticker price should have been taken to a citizen vote. Your local government has far too much power.

    Again – great post, love your passion.

  35. Randy,

    Thanks for a great article. The gross excess displayed is one of many things wrong in this age of government non-accountability. While I support those who serve and protect, that does not give blanket excuse for poor management and supervision.

    We’re moving from one of the most corrupt county governments in the nation (cook, IL) to the Nashville area. You’ve helped us eliminate one of the areas we’ve looked at. I don’t need to go from one form of corruption to another.

    Blessings,

  36. D. Michael Kruggel April 29, 2010 at 13:05

    Randy and Jason,

    I will first and foremost tell you that I am not shocked at either opinion and/or response, but, because of your responses, it also shows that we live in a country that does allow one of the most giving of all of the laws that our founding fathers gave to us in the First Amendment, and that is Freedom of Speech.

    As Police Officers, we give and gave our lives fighting for those rights, again, even if we disagree with what you are trying to uphold. Whether it is being for or against Abortion, Immigration, whatever was going on, there is a Police Officer there to protect those rights.

    Jason, specifically, when you talk about bad cops, I was the named victim, “MK”, in the federal trial of one of Nashville’s former cops, Calvin Hullett. Mr. Hullett stole my identity during the break-in at the Fraternal Order of Police Youth Camp in Mt. Juliet, TN. Mr. Hullett plead guilty in both Federal and State Courts to multiple crimes against both me and the Fraternal Order of Police and was recently released from prison for those crimes. So yes, I have seen the abuse of power before firsthand.

    Randy, my statement to you was simple, do not condemn a Police Officer for giving someone a citation as you do nor did not know the circumstances for which he pulled the person over. You called it a “shopping tax”. That Jason and Randy was condescending to the Police Officer and to the community that we have and are protecting. So Jason, as I said before, you can have your opinion with regards to that matter and I would not ever want your rights to freedom of speech ever to be taken away. As a journalist, I would almost bet you hold that right to be the highest of all rights afforded to you by the US Constitution.

    I would like to say that, when you said, “Your over the top statements like “Perhaps we should eliminate tickets and speed limits. Let people get mowed down crossing streets, or perish for lack of traffic control” absolutely REEK of arrogance and a mindset that you think you’re better than the people to whom you’re responding”, I guess you didn’t read the whole statement that Robert made and I guess that if and when he chooses to respond to that, he will. So please do not use the broad brush and paint all Police Officers as arrogant, sometimes someone has to take a stand against what is right and what is wrong with something. I am not always right and I thank God every day for allowing me the opportunity to get up and speak, let alone walk (that was due to an on-duty vehicular accident similar to the one that Cpl. McLaren was in where-in I was told that I would never walk again). So when I defend Law Enforcement, it is because I have firsthand knowledge, unlike those that do not.

    However, I would challenge each one of you to take a post and stand with us to defend those rights and go through an extended police academy to be the best Police Officer, Sheriffs’ Deputy or Trooper you can be, or be spit upon by those that want to be heard or disagree with you because we are standing in the way of your rights to freedom of speech, or just ride in the deepest parts of a crime riddled city and you will find an Officer willing to help you change a tire to get you out of harms’ way so you can go home at night and be safe while those same Police Officers respond to a domestic violence call all by themselves. It’s ironic that I used that last statement as a Police Officer from Nashville a couple of years ago was permanently disabled because she was shot 9 times by an ex-con who was upset that she went to the aid of a female who was beat up during domestic violence. Yeah, her rights were violated and a Police Officer was dispatched, by herself, to protect this citizen, but she still went because that’s what she swore to do.

    You did mention that Cpl. McLaren wasn’t even from the Franklin Police Department. You are correct, except that Cpl. McLaren was a resident of Franklin. However, there is one thing you didn’t mention. If Cpl. McLaren had seen a crime being committed in Franklin, directly in front of him, do you think the victim of that crime would have cared where he worked? Absolutely not! He would have been grateful that someone had stopped to render assistance until a local Police Officer had arrived.

    I thank you again for your constructive statements and I still have not even spoken about the new Police Station. That will be left for another post.

    Fraternally and God bless this great country of ours and all of the rights we are afforded,

    D. Michael Kruggel

    • @D. Michael Kruggel, Thanks, Michael. I do appreciate the men and women who serve us a officers. I have great friends on the Franklin force. However, that is not what this post is about. It is about the $38 million dollar Police HQ and the excessive ticketing that is most certainly another tax.

      It would be very interesting to see the dollar amount generated to the city by traffic citations alone.

      I applaud officers for their bravery and courage in taking care of crime and abuse.

      I do NOT applaud the Franklin Government leaders for approving and issuing excessive traffic citations because that is the easy way to make money. This saddles our children with bad driving records (no one checks their record to see they were only going 4 miles over the speed limit) and costs all of us residents extra money when we do not have it.

      To the point.
      .-= Randy Elrod´s last blog ..An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens =-.

  37. Robert Michaels April 29, 2010 at 13:29

    Jason, thank you for being so kind as to say the bad cops are in the minority. You are correct. I have know a few, and they get weeded out. Departments do not like them either. Of course, media sources, likewise, do not like hack journalists that make up stories, only to retract buried where no one can find the story.

    That said, I support the statements by Mike Krueggel. Obviously you feel he generalizes including 9-11, but is that different than your reference to departments who like power? That is like saying media enjoy power, oh, that’s right, they do. The power of the pen.

    to be clear, I have many friends in the media, in the general sense, music, sports, and beyond. I’ve not met a bad one yet, and I’m sure you are a god guy as well. I have only written one other piece to address a writer – for the NY Times. He wrote that “Colleges Recruit Thugs To Play Football.” I took personal offense having been with athletic departments at more then 200 colleges. I said he comment is as ridiculous as saying media recruit hacks to be journalists.

    My gripe with Randy, or anyone who blankets officers in a bad light, is that they have no clue what they are saying. Gripe about the building, be frustrated if you see an abuse of power – which I have personally addressed when it was necessary – but by all means, support the good guys who protect you. But it is easier to take a shotgun than a rifle. Like Randy, I invite you to attend the memorial 5/12 in the town square. 11:00 am.

    No doubt some of my comments were harsh – but exaggeration for a purpose – I believe journalists do that often. To make a point. Oh yeah, it was Randy. And sarcasm, well, I guess I’m guilty as charged, but not ashamed. None of my fellow creatives have walked a beat, taken a stand in the face of danger. I have, and I’ll bleed for my brothers if necessary.

    And for Randy’s dismissive “Sounds like somebody needs a muffin,” I will simply say, someone needs a bit of gratitude for Franklin Police.

    • “I said he comment is as ridiculous as saying media recruit hacks to be journalists.”

      Actually, Robert, they do. Look on the editorial pages of most newspapers and you’ll see “citizen columnists” or other similar titles which are nothing more than glorified letter to the editor writers. Yet they seem to carry the “weight” of the newspaper or other media outlet. It’s a very chilling process where the media itself is undermining it’s own credibility. That, however, is a whole different subject.

      I’m not going to play a game of “tit-for-tat” with you but don’t assume that no one else here hasn’t walked a beat or been in situations where people with guns want to shoot the officer crouched behind the car a few feet away from you about to take those people down. There are people reading this who would grab a gun and get right next to an officer if they were outmanned in a fight to protect them. I understand your passion to protect them. Don’t assume for a second no one else…especially those who don’t agree 100% with you…wouldn’t do the same just because they didn’t wear a shield.

      I’ve just seen abuses first hand and I know they’re not perfect. You can take issue with Randy all you want with the things he said and I’ll admit some of his statements are flippant. Honestly, IF there’s abuses of power in policies about pulling over as many people as possible it’s almost a lock it’s not the guys on the street who are issuing the policies. (Again, note the IF in that last sentence.)

      As for Michael’s 9/11 statement, he referenced those heroes in what appears to be an attempt to attack and shame people who would want to have officers be held accountable if they were acting in an abusive manner. That was likely not his intent but that’s exactly how it appeared. My statement about departments abusing power was limited, clearly stated to not represent all departments nor was used to say Michael shouldn’t be expressing his opinion. I have no issue with his view. It’s how he presented that which I found offensive.

      “be frustrated if you see an abuse of power – which I have personally addressed when it was necessary – but by all means, support the good guys who protect you”

      That’s my point. Michael seemed to be hammering home that we shouldn’t even question the actions of officers…but if we never question, how could we see an abuse of power? Just because someone questions the actions of an officer doesn’t mean they disrespect all officers or the profession as a whole.

  38. From Tennessean reporter Kevin Walters:

    Hey, Randy. Thanks for the shout-out. Here’s a Q & A that I put together about the police headquarters project, culling some quotes and facts from years of coverage. It’s long but I could have written even more. Check it out at my Franklin Sunshine blog; http://tnne.ws/1Ej
    .-= Randy Elrod´s last blog ..An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens =-.

  39. Thanks, Kevin for the information. When one reads my open letter, it shows I am certainly an advocate for a new police station- just not a $38 million dollar embarrassment. There is no question we need a new one.

    I am also an advocate for the men and women who serve us as our police offices. Public servants, I believe the term reads. I have friends on the force and they have my greatest and utmost respect.

    However, the leaders who are making the decisions to fund our city and a ballooning police budget through endless traffic citations will eventually find they are building on sand. If this continues, no one will do business here and the downtown residents who pay the bulk of the fines will eventually grow weary of the corruption and find somewhere else to live.

    I would like to find the public record of the alderman who voted for the HQ. I have tried with no luck.

    Do you have the names? You mentioned in an article that Pam Lewis was the only dissenting vote. Who were the other alderman?

    Thanks for your diligence in reporting the facts about this. I did not live in the Franklin City Limits until 3 years ago, so I am just learning all this info.
    .-= Randy Elrod´s last blog ..An Open and Candid Letter To Franklin, TN Government & Citizens =-.

  40. it is chilling how many times you use the word “chilling”.

    Having grown up in franklin, i consider most of this article a bit over dramatic. Yes the building was entirely too much, and yes we should vote out ANY politician who is spending our money like there’s no tomorrow, but police state? I mean come on! if you’re not breaking the law then you have nothing to worry about! And as far as the rams on the front of the police cars, that’s pretty much standard on police cars everywhere I’ve been. Now, if they cost the city $1.4 million dollars, then yeah, we have a problem, but seriously?

  41. Hmmm, interesting. A $38 million sounds a bit (a LOT) crazy. And the building is quite large and ugly. I don’t disagree there.

    But I’ve living in and around Franklin for 15 years, and driving for 13 years of those 15 and I’ve NEVER gotten a ticket or citation. BUT, I’m very careful especially when driving through downtown. I make sure I slow down when the speed limit changes and make a full stop at stop signs, because I know that the cops are everywhere down there. My dad was ticketed close to 5-Points for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, which is a bit much. But really? He should have stopped. One of my brothers has a real problem with the cops in Franklin, but he does things that are illegal. My advice to him would be – stop doing things that are illegal and the cops won’t be a problem! My best friend who has living in Franklin for 16 years has gotten more than 10 tickets, but she drives sooo fast and deserved every single one of them. (She’s been pulled over more than that, but sometimes got a warning.) I guess I’ve never had a bad experience with a cop in Franklin, so I don’t have a problem with them. And every time I’ve know someone to get a ticket, they deserved it – I thought.

    I’ll probably get a ticket tonight – ha!!

  42. I’ve now read the letter and all responses. Clearly there are plenty of people feeling the same way Randy does. There are some good points being made on both sides.

    Debating or challenging the perceived excesses is completely appropriate. Lord knows there’s a general apathy in the country that shows up via low voter turn out and that needs to change. I applaud the effort to get people to the polls. Only good can come of that I feel.

    All the talk about excessive ticketing only serves to distract from the goal of getting people to own their towns by voting. It really just sounds like sour grapes. If the gripe is about speeding, which it sounds like most are, try not speeding. I’ve never managed to get a speeding ticket while going the speed limit and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that going the speed limit be the norm rather than the exception. If the gripe is about parking, lobby for a new parking structure and use the high number of tickets as evidence that there currently isn’t enough parking. Complaining about being caught in violation of posted traffic laws doesn’t really hold any weight.

    I moved here from California where I could easily speed my life away and run very little risk of being caught due to understaffed police departments. The streets of downtown Franklin are not big enough to allow speeding. There’s too much vehicle traffic and too much foot traffic.

    Have I noticed the omnipresence of police in Williamson Co.? Definitely. Do I feel oppressed because I now have to more closely follow the traffic laws? Definitely not. I attribute their constant presence to the low overall crime rate and constantly joke about the police having nothing better to do.

    Might there be too many officers for the given crime rate of the area? It’s certainly possible, but I’m not in any way qualified to make that judgment and neither are most people in this conversation. I certainly feel that complaints about speeding tickets is not the proper barometer by which to staff a police force.

    Anyway, this is a good conversation about taking interest in and ownership of one’s community that I feel would produce more results if it didn’t get off track by complaining about being ticketed for breaking the law.

    Just my $.02

    • @Jeff, Thanks, Jeff. Actually, I’ve never had a speeding ticket here myself. I credit that to walking and strictly abiding the speed limit. We definitely need to get more involved. Thanks for your, more than, $.02 I appreciate you joining the conversation!

  43. A few thoughts…

    First of all, no one is being ticketed for 3 mph over the limit. Most officers I know won’t cite for anything less than 10-15 over. Some will write 1 over (or something similar) on the ticket to cut someone a break on the fine/points, but this urban legend of getting stopped for 3 (or 2. or 4, or whatever ridiculous numbers have been mentioned above) is completely false.

    Complain if you’d like about the size of the new HQ. But the comparison to Memphis is lazy and inaccurate at best. The size of the Memphis HQ may be smaller, but Memphis is divided into many precincts with multiple stations. The Franklin HQ houses everything, as there are no precincts. At least find a comparison that makes sense.

    There are only a couple police vehicles with “cow catchers” and they came pre-outfitted that way from the dealer due to being ordered late in the budget year a couple years ago. I think there are precisely 3 out there. Perhaps you won’t find that so “chilling” now (but there have been pursuits involving FPD vehicles recently…luckily, they’re not frequent).

    If you truly believe that the police have nothing to do with the low crime rate in Franklin, then you are living in fantasy land.

    Why anyone would have a problem with the phrase “to enforce the law” when the profession is known as “law enforcement” is beyond me. That’s certainly not ALL that the police do, but it is one of their primary responsibilities. That includes traffic laws. I find that usually people want all laws enforced except the one that they happen to be breaking at the moment.

    • @Matt, Matt, Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Okay. But they are certainly ticketed for 4 over. I have many friends who can attest to that.

      Comparison to Memphis, lazy perhaps, although I did talk personally with the Memphis Policeman Pr person and he had quite a bit to say about the accuracy of my statements.

      If there are only two vehicles with “cow catchers” -my goodness, they certainly do get around. Somehow, I find that hard -not impossible- but hard to believe.

      I certainly believe the Police have much to do with the low crime rate. See my post “Letter of Appreciation”.

      I have a big problem with the profession being known as law enforcement.

      Your last sentence is totally and categorically untrue. As hard as it is to believe- some Americans really care.

      Just curious, You happen to sound very authoritative about your knowledge, i.e. first sentence of your comment. Would you happen to be related to or actually be the Mr. Smalley referred to in the comment below? If so, a suggestion for a letter of apology to her would be appropriate.

      You are probably someone different, but just in case. It seemed to be a very strange coincidence.

      • @Randy Elrod,

        I would challenge you or anyone to produce a copy of a citation that was issued for 4mph over the limit by the FPD. Scan it, black out personal info, and post a link.

        There are currently 3 vehicles with “cow catchers” in the fleet of over 100 cars. Originally there were 4, but one “caught” a deer.

        I’m glad that you agree that the police have something to do with the low crime rate. Perhaps I was confused by the quote “Franklin has one of the lowest crime rates in America. And it’s not because of the Police.”

        And for the record, no, I am not the person referred to in the other post. However, given that neither of us were there, perhaps suggesting a letter of apology is a bit much. I’d tell her to take it up with his supervisor if she feels that she was treated unfairly.

  44. Victoria Manroe April 30, 2010 at 16:50

    One evening my daughter got hit from behind on Mack Hatcher. The woman that hit her wanted to call the police. 45 Minutes later (and now with a dead battery) my daughter was treated with a very condescending attitude from an Officer Smalley of the Franklin Police. He said “Oh, is that all”? and told them he wouldn’t fill out an accident report. He also left my daughter alone on the side of the road with a dead battery in the dark. I don’t have much respect for him! Just sayin’. Oh yeah, any given day I see multiple Franklin Police everywhere except where you need them!

  45. I would suggest that those of you who have a problem with the way the Police handle situations, sign up for a ride-a-long for an entire 12 hour shift. Did you ever tour the inside of the old police department? Yes, the new HQ is big but I encourage all citizens to attend the open house and see what technology the FPD has access to and will be able to assist surrounding agencies with.

    As for your “shopping tax” reference and implying that Officers are forced to write citations, purely ridiculous. There are no and have never been so called “quotas”. The officer has the ability to decide whether or not you receive a citation.

    Please get the facts from the source, not someone who is mad at getting a ticket.

    • @John, My neighbor just did the ride-along and told me personally that she was appalled at what she heard from the officer who had recently transferred to Franklin from another city. The officer said they would NEVER give citations for such slight violations in their previous city like they are instructed to do in Franklin.

      Sounds like you need to get your facts straight.

    • LOLThatsAGoodOne May 1, 2010 at 20:40

      @John,

      Don’t bother trying to insert facts. Randy always has a “neighbor” who just did a ride along or a “friend” who just got a ticket for 2 over. Nevermind the fact that there hasn’t been a group of officers hired in over a year and that no one in a “recent” class has transferred from another department.

      As far as officers being forced to write tickets, that’s a joke and Randy doesn’t even know why. There are probably less than 10 officers that actually write tickets anyway and they don’t do it because they are forced to. Are there cities out there that encourage their cops to write tickets for revenue? I’m sure. Franklin isn’t one of them.

  46. You started off discussing the costs of the police headquarters building but you got sidetracked on people who are frustrated at receiving an array of tickets from the police department. You know that building has been under construction for a long time now. Why now only realizing the complete abuse of monies?

    • Thanks for joining conversation. It’s hard for me to understand how someone else can presume to know my thoughts and say I got sidetracked. No, I didn’t get sidetracked. Read the entire purposeful letter in context. Unfortunately, I moved to downtown city limits after the HQ had been approved. But, think about it. Why would I?

  47. How far would $38 Million dollars go if put to good use in the Franklin special schools district?

  48. You thought Franklin was corrupt? Check out these tales of Nissan woes///

    http://www.girlintheblackhonda.com/

    Wild!

  49. Dana McLendon May 3, 2010 at 16:50

    I sure hope this flooding inconvenience can go away quickly so the jack booted thugs can stop helping with rescues and traffic and other emergency stuff and get back to writing tickets.

    • Frankly, I’m appalled, but unfortunately not surprised, that an elected alderman of Franklin would make a comment like this during this crisis.

      We are tired and I’m sure you must be as well. Your neighborhood has been hit hard.

      But please make no mistake, this isn’t about the men and women of the Police and Fire Departments who are working to help the community.

      This is about the leaders of the Franklin gov’t who are commanding them to issue excessive traffic citations to pay for their decisions and who have built a $38 million dollar travesty.

  50. An interesting observation that I think contributes to this conversation…
    While I stood with several Downtown Franklin small business owners, who were cleaning up over 2 ft of flood water from their stores, we noticed that Chalkie (our name for the police officer who tickets downtown) was CHALKING and TICKETING cars in the 4th Ave parking lot.

    Really? I think Franklin can live without a day of ticket money.

    Ugh!

    • @S.James, You all would throw yourselves onto a hand grenade to be able to say to friends in passing just to sound cool “I live in downtown Franklin” and then you bitch about it. Typical. It’s like listening to the DNA bitch about traffic and they keep voting in the same leftovers year after year. you all are not just a bunch of whiners, but a bunch of dumb rookies to boot. Grow up. Pick a philosophy and for God’s sake quit bitching about something you have no intention of changing.

  51. Ok… That’s wildly inappropriate. Please take your vulgar comments somewhere else.

  52. Speaking for Public Safety May 3, 2010 at 23:05

    Let’s look at some numbers.

    In the last budget year with final data available (2008), city court fees and fines plus parking fines brought the city $768,845. Total city revenue was $54,797,564. This means that ticket revenue accounted for about 1.4% of the city’s cash flow. The budgeted/estimated numbers for 2009 and 2010 are similar. So, now you’re going to tell me that this is the money that the city is relying on to be a major cash cow?

    Some more numbers. Last near the police department issued about 10,000 traffic citations. Dividing that by 80 (the approximate number of officers assigned to patrol or traffic…the odds of being ticketed by detectives, management, etc are slim) yields an average of 125 tickets per year per officer. Dividing by 208 (the average number of work days per year per officer before they went to crazy 12 hour shifts) yields about 1/2 ticket per day per officer. Obviously some write more than others. But gosh, that low average must mean there are going to be a lot of fired officers. On any given day of the year, 27 people on average will get tickets. That’s 27 out of 55,000+ residents and who knows how many passers-through.

    All of these numbers are verifiable by looking at the city’s budget or at the police department’s annual report. So, perhaps now you won’t have to pucker up so much when you go to the store or breathe such a heavy sigh of relief when you make it home without a ticket. However, if you plan on going 20 over the limit or blowing through red lights every time you go to the store, it’s possible that you may fall victim to the city’s evil money-making scheme.

    • @Public Safety, Thanks for these numbers. I will check the budget. Who is this speaking for Public Safety and how do you have these numbers?

      Because honestly, these numbers don’t keep me from puckering.

      Thanks.

      • Public Safety May 4, 2010 at 15:06

        @Randy Elrod,

        The numbers are readily available on the city’s web site.The budget is still there. I don’t know if the PD’s annual report is still up there or not since the site redesign, but you can probably obtain a copy down at city hall.

        Don’t forget, also, that a chunk of those tickets are issued as the result of a crash investigation. So, your pucker factor should decrease even more if you don’t rear end someone while changing radio stations.

        If all of this has not decreased your pucker factor, then perhaps you are just doomed to forever pucker in a state of constant paranoia. Hopefully the mathematics might at least convince you that ticket revenue ain’t paying for much in the city.

        • @Public Safety, Thanks, but you did not answer my question.

          BTW, You seem as fond of the word pucker as I am about the word chilling.

          • Public Safety May 4, 2010 at 19:46

            @Randy Elrod,

            LOL regarding “pucker”. I thought I was quoting somebody who had used the word before, but I can’t find it now. Perhaps I was reading a different blog altogether. You’ll have to forgive me, as it’s been kind of an exhausting few days.

            At any rate, who I am really is not important, as everything I’ve said is public information and can be verified if you so choose…unlike these mythical people who receive tickets for 3 over the limit and people who “know an officer who had a neighbor who told me…” etc.

            • Thanks again for joining the conversation. I will indeed verify the numbers, although I even “real” budgets and numbers are only as good as the leaders reporting them. Thanks for the info, and unfortunately, I wish it weren’t true, but all the “mythical” people are very real.

              On a personal and not political note, rest well and be safe. The emotion and tragedy of helping our community has been a trying time for all of us, public servants and citizens alike.

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