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Leading A Police Department Under Fire: A Conversation With Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper

Chief Tammy Hooper has overseen the Asheville Police Department since 2015. She joined The State of Things to talk about her department's handling of a 2017 incident in which a white former city police officer beat a black pedestrian.
Amanda Magnus
Chief Tammy Hooper has overseen the Asheville Police Department since 2015. She joined The State of Things to talk about her department's handling of a 2017 incident in which a white former city police officer beat a black pedestrian.
Chief Tammy Hooper has overseen the Asheville Police Department since 2015. She joined The State of Things to talk about her department's handling of a 2017 incident in which a white former city police officer beat a black pedestrian.
Credit Amanda Magnus
Chief Tammy Hooper has overseen the Asheville Police Department since 2015. She joined The State of Things to talk about her department's handling of a 2017 incident in which a white former city police officer beat a black pedestrian.

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper about last summer’s incident, the fallout, and her ongoing efforts to improve police tactics.

The former officer faces charges of felony assault and the FBI is currently investigating the incident. Meanwhile the city has experienced fallout of its own: in March the city council voted unanimously to dismiss City Manager Gary Jackson, and many other city and county officials are still feeling the heat. Among them is Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooperwho has led the department since July 2015. Reports show that from 2016-2017, the department’s use of force has dramatically decreased, and the amount of citizen complaints has gone down. But some argue that last summer’s incident undermined trust between her department and the African-American community, in particular.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper about last summer’s incident, the fallout, and her ongoing efforts to improve police tactics.Watch our conversation with Chief Hooper:

 

Copyright 2018 North Carolina Public Radio

Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.