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Nashville Officer Delke case leads to 'Ferguson Effect' debate

FOX 17 News photo

A two-day hearing ended with a judge deciding there is probable cause officer Andrew Delke is unjustified in the killing of Daniel Hambrick. It's a controversial move that has the police force reeling.

Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood sums up the widespread concern with this statement:

“District Attorney Funk's actions will undoubtedly create suspicion in the minds of the officers of this city, that when they follow their law and they follow their training, they will be wrongfully prosecuted.”

Smallwood is referring to officers afraid of doing their jobs, afraid of following their training, with the belief they could be prosecuted for trying to protect the community.

But, civil rights attorney Tricia Herzfeld says maybe that fear isn't such a bad thing.

“I think if it makes officers stop for a second and think before they shoot, that's a positive impact for the people of Nashville,” Herzfeld said.

While some fear officers may start leaving the force in droves, Herzfeld says there's just a change in policing tactics across the country.

“We've gone from more of a broken windows, pull everybody over at all times approach, to a more thoughtful, evidence-based approach that hopefully won't lead to nearly as much racial profiling. So, I think what we're seeing is a change in policing overall and not necessarily a Ferguson effect or anything to that nature,” Herzfeld said.

One thing both sides could agree on: No matter what the outcome for Officer Delke, change is in the works.

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