The Brentwood Police Department is preparing for a new chapter in 2021 after a year of challenges and personal tragedy.
The most significant change to the department in 2021, and possibly the most significant change in the 50-year history of the department, will be the completion of their new $29 million, two story, 55,000-square-foot headquarters building.
It's the largest single capital project in the city’s history and is scheduled to open in the spring, and will contain expanded office space for every division as well as the city’s emergency dispatchers.
The building will also house an indoor firing range and new state-of-the art firearms training simulator system, which takes up an entire room and gives officers the ability to run through a variety of use of force and de-escalation training scenarios.
In addition to the building’s more practical features, it will also have a bronze lion statue that will accompany a granite memorial wall near the employee entrance of the building.
The wall will honor both fallen officers and those who have served the city for more than 20 years, while the lion is a nod to the lion sculptures at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.
The memorial wall will be engraved with BPD's motto, "Loyalty Above All Else Except Honor," and will include the name of the first officer lost to the department, Destin Legieza. Legieza was killed in a motor vehicle crash last year.
“The wall will be a visual symbol that any day we could lose one of our own,” BPD Chief Jeff Hughes said in a Brentwood City Commission meeting last fall. “Officer Legieza was only 30 years old; way too young to be taken. The wall will serve as a reminder that life is precious and law enforcement can be a dangerous career."
Money for the lion sculpture was raised in hours by private donations, but the city will cover the costs of the memorial wall.
“The fact that we are here in a city that’s investing $30 million into a new facility to help us grow and be better is incredible,” BPD Assistant Chief Richard Hickey said. “Personally, it makes me so glad that I chose to stay here in Brentwood and make this my career.”
Hickey said in a phone call that the new headquarters will help officers adapt and confront crime in the growing community, but added that some crime trends that have been increasing pose new challenges.
“We’re seeing a lot more online crime, scams and those kinds of things,” Hickey said. “Internet crime is so hard for us to deal with and trace, where maybe somebody who lives in Brentwood is the victim, but you find out that the place where a transaction took place with their name and credit is in California or Oregon or somewhere where it’s hard for us to investigate.”
And like other law enforcement agencies in Williamson County, Hickey said that BPD also continues to focus on vehicle burglaries that have occurred across the city and the county.
BPD has also adapted to the pandemic in numerous ways, including wearing masks, taking some reports over the phone as well as suspending popular programs such as the citizen’s police academy. Hickey said that they hope to get back to more community engagement programs as soon as public health allows.
Throughout 2020 protests took place in cities and towns across the country including in Brentwood.
The protests for racial justice following the May 25 killing of George Floyd sparked events nationwide. This included a summer of protests in Nashville following the May 30 riot, and protests across Williamson County.
A chief component to those demonstrations were calls for police accountability and public safety reforms.
Hickey said that BPD is committed to improving each day and continuing to serve and protect the citizens of Brentwood with respect and purpose, and an understanding that the issues highlighted throughout 2020 can reach far beyond a single community.
“We can always get better, we can always learn lessons, whether it’s happening in Brentwood or Minneapolis or wherever,” Hickey said. “We have to take note of what’s working right and what’s not working and where we can do better.”
“First and foremost we are public servants,” Hickey said, “We teach our guys and tell our guys and preach to them to leave every interaction better than you found it — find a way to make it better, and do it with a servant's heart.”
Hickey said that in addition to that mission, the department is also focused on being transparent about their role and goals within the community.
We’ve learned the lesson that we’ve got to be more open than we’ve ever been, and we have to show people that we’re trying to do the right thing,” Hickey said, adding that the Brentwood community has long been supportive of their efforts. “We are in a community that wants us to be proactive, not just reactive.”
“We are really blessed with living in one of the few places that really loves and supports law enforcement and what we’re trying to do,” Hickey said, adding that especially after BPD’s difficult year with the loss of Officer Legieza, they have felt the love and support of the Brentwood community in every way.