Megan Barry scandal: Nashville police make changes to mayoral security OT, travel practices
Full interview with Police Chief Steve Anderson over the news of Megan Barry Lacy Atkins / The Tennessean
Mayor Megan Barry stands with Sgt. Rob Forrest at her inaugural ceremony in September 2015. The two began an affair in Spring 2016, revealed in January.(Photo: Obtained from the Metro Nashville Police Department)
Nashville police are changing how officers are scheduled to protect Mayor Megan Barry, acknowledging new policies are needed after a former bodyguard earned tens of thousands of dollars in overtime while he had an affair with Barry.
The new head of security, Sgt.
Chris West, is arranging the schedule in a way that limits overtime, said police spokesman Don Aaron.
"Sgt. West has arranged for one of the full-time detail members, on a rotating basis, to come in later every day so that individuals can cover the afternoon/evening hours with minimal overtime if any at all. He also has detail members alternating weekend days," Aaron said in an email late Monday.
On Tuesday, Aaron said when former Sgt.
Rob Forrest -- with whom Barry had the affair -- led the security detail, "the officers alternated shifts and days off as the schedule allowed, and officers did come in later depending on the schedule."
A USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee investigation found Forrest earned more than £170,000 in overtime since Barry took office in September 2015. During 2017, Forrest recorded hundreds of hours of overtime over the course of 205 days, taking Barry to an array of events, including hot yoga, late-night concerts and posh restaurants.
He claimed overtime many times when the mayor had no or few events listed on her schedule, including one Saturday in April 2017 when he earned 13.5 hours of overtime to drive Barry and her sisters to stores, a concert and a bar.
Records also show the two traveled alone together on at least 10 official trips, including stays in Athens, Greece, Kansas City and San Francisco on four days when the conferences were not underway.
Aaron said as a supervisor, Forrest's overtime was approved by Capt. Mike Alexander of the Special Investigations Division.
Police department won't launch separate investigation from the TBIShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide
Despite the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation saying it has evidence Forrest took and sent nude images using work devices, Aaron said the department will not launch any independent investigation.
"The MNPD is not conducting a separate investigation from the TBI.
In that Forrest is no longer an employee, the police department has no authority over him. The department cannot sanction him," Aaron said.
Search warrants and affidavits filed by the TBI in Nashville criminal court last week say they found nude photos Forrest had emailed to himself using his work email. The TBI believes the photos show Barry and Forrest engaged in the affair on a trip while they were purportedly working.CLOSE
TBI says it has obtained nude photos of a woman taken on the phone of former Sgt.
Rob Forrest, evidence that investigators believe shows Nashville Mayor Megan Barry engaged in an affair with her former bodyguard on duty. Michael Schwab / USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee
Immediately after Barry admitted the affair, Chief Steve Anderson said he did not believe the affair violated any policies.
The mayoral security team is overseen by the department's Special Investigations Division. Aaron said members of the security team now must tell their superiors immediately once they learn of potential air travel.
"It is also anticipated that Metro IT is fixing the reported computer issue that prevented notice of travel authorization requests concerning the mayoral detail from being sent to Chief Anderson in the normal electronic routing process," Aaron said.
After the start of the affair, Barry's Chief Operating Officer Rich Riebeling approved a change in policy to allow the mayor's office to approve and pay security detail expenses out of its own budget. Keith Durbin, the city's information technology department head, told Anderson in a memo the approval process was "unusual."
Durbin's memo also details computer system flaws that errantly eliminated alerts to Anderson for approval of travel requests involving members of the mayor's security detail after the mayor's office took over paying for expenses.
Aaron said the department was not aware of any request from the mayor's office asking for specific officers to work events, noting it was up to Forrest to set the schedule.
There are now three officers working full-time on Barry's security detail: West, Det.
Mike Dixon and Det.
A fourth officer will assist as needed, Aaron said.
Even with the changes, Aaron said two members of the security are with the mayor during her schedule, including on the weekend, with "one person driving the mayor and the second person doing advance work at the upcoming location."
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