NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The homicide rate in Metro Nashville is at its lowest in nearly 50 years and police officials said members of the clergy should get more credit.
For many years, chaplains have voluntarily accompanied police to crime scenes.
Chief Steve Anderson with the Metro Nashville Police Department said their calming influence at crime scenes stops further violence. They console victims and many times prevent retaliations and other violence.
"These men and women give of their own time to join us at the scene of tragic events," said Chief Anderson.
More than 50 clergy members volunteer in Nashville to help police.
When 19-year-old Jonathan Hollister was fatally stabbed Monday night, police not only called for an ambulance but also a minister.
"They're always willing to talk to clergy and they respect us," said Michael Joyner, a volunteer chaplain. "We're there to help them and they understand we're there to help them."
Members of the clergy have been so important that Chief Anderson mentioned them to Mayor Karl Dean during this year's budget hearings. In 2013, Anderson said Metro Police recorded 2,000 fewer victims of major crimes.
The homicide rate is the lowest it's been in the 50 year history of Metro Nashville.
Metro Police started the volunteer chaplain program more than six years ago. Each chaplain volunteers his or her time.