NASHVILLE – Communication interruptions between federal and local authorities over the weekend meant senior officials at the Metro Nashville Police Department were unaware of Anthony Quinn Warner. recent history with the department until almost two days after the Christmas Day explosion.
Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Wednesday that many members of the police department were without AT&T cell phone service over the weekend. The explosion, which took place near an AT&T facility in the city center, crippled telecommunications systems in the southeast.
The Tennessean obtained the 2019 police report on Tuesday evening through a public records request.
Asked why the police or the FBI did not alert the public once they realized there was a 2019 report on Warner, Drake said his agency wanted to examine and bring together more information to better understand what happened in 2019. That review is ongoing, Drake said.
He defended the department in the way he handled the August 2019 tip on Anthony Quinn Warner building bombs in an RV parked outside his home.
Drake said that in 2019 officers attempted to reach Warner on several occasions to discuss allegations he was making bombs, which were reported by his girlfriend.
But after failing to contact Warner and once the FBI said there were no alerts for him in their database, Nashville Police put an end to their requests. Officers did not attempt to obtain a search warrant for the house or the RV.
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Drake said he didn’t think the police had enough information to receive a warrant.
“It would have taken signs that a crime was indeed being committed, that a bomb was indeed being made,” Drake said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that a search warrant request “would have been rejected” by a judge.
“ I can’t break down a door based on a tip ”
Bobby Young, a former MNPD detective in the department’s specialized investigations division, said the report released by the department shows that the officers did everything they were supposed to do.
“Clearly you can’t just knock on the door based on a tip,” said Young, who spent 10 years with the department and now operates Covert Results, a private investigative firm.
Young, who worked on drug investigations as a cop, estimates that he applied for a few hundred search warrants during his career in law enforcement. He said there are strategies detectives can use to try to find a probable cause for a judge to grant a warrant, such as surveillance, setting up a pole camera or questioning neighbors. .
He wonders if there was adequate communication between the specialized investigative division, the bomb squad or other units in the department in the days following the filing of the 2019 report.
“It could be some sort of communication failure with the old administration,” Young said of the police department headed by former chief Steve Anderson, who retired in August amid widespread calls to his resignation. “When a bomb complaint comes in, who receives it and where does it go?”
In August 2019, this information was shared with the FBI.
The FBI defended its 2019 response, saying the agency provided Nashville Police with information the department requested on Warner, but “no crimes were reported,” said Joel Siskovic, a spokesperson. from the FBI in Memphis.
“The FBI is not in the habit of investigating and searching for individuals in the absence of criminal charges, criminal allegations,” Siskovic said. “So I can’t go too far into how our system works, but basically if there had been any reason to believe that there was a crime, especially a federal crime, then we would have taken d ‘other measures. “
Young said that compared to other police departments of similar size, the MNPD lacks liaison in working groups with federal departments. While the department has an FBI task force officer, there isn’t one for other federal agencies, said Young, a board member of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police.
Drake said on Wednesday that he had just learned that the department had no officers assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, but that it would soon assign one.
‘I shrugged my shoulders about this’
Nashville attorney Jamie Hollin, who represented Community Oversight Now, who advocated for a citizen-led police oversight board in 2018, said more “skill and persistence” from MNPD investigators could have led a judge to issue a search warrant.
“There has to be some accountability,” Hollin said. “It had catastrophic consequences. It will tarnish the credibility of this department for the next 25 years if it is not managed properly now.”
Nashville attorney Bryan Stephenson said he would not blame the police for refusing to violate someone’s constitutional rights, but said that in other cases officers had investigated to find a probable cause.
“Everyone has the right to the same protections,” Stephenson said. “It’s so infuriating that we spend so much time breaking down people’s doors for drug offenses and devastating lives and shooting people and stuff, and they just shrugged their shoulders about it. “
Follow Natalie Allison on Twitter: @natalie_allison.