Magazine article The Quill

Quill: Investigative Reporting-Newspaper/wire Service

Magazine article The Quill

Quill: Investigative Reporting-Newspaper/wire Service

Article excerpt

Circulation less than 100,000

Willy Stern

Nashville Scene

Above the Law

Following a lead from a retired police source, Willie Stern uncovered a brutal story in Nashville of abuse - by the very people that were supposed to be the protectors.

Stem, a senior writer for the Nashville Scene, learned that city police officers, moonlighting as security guards, were responsible for patrolling small Hispanic communities in Nashville. Instead, however, he found that they routinely beat, robbed and harassed the members of those communities.

It was a Saturday night in January 1999, and the clock had just struck midnight. Seated around a table at a Denny's Restaurant, eight private security guards smoked cigarettes, sipped coffee, munched on chicken strips, and passed the time.

The guards worked for the company named Detection Services, and their job was to act as night patrolmen for apartment buildings across Nashville. But none felt like working, and the company's owner, Larry Lawson, didn't care. He was seated at the table too. As long as the men fudged their time sheets, the owners of the apartment buildings would never know the difference.

But suddenly, Lawson declared. "I'm bored. Let's go down to taco city and fuck with the Mexicans."

As his investigation grew, Stem traced some members of the security force to the Police Department's own Internal Affairs office, where blatant episodes of corruption had occurred concerning probes into the private security firm. Over the course of six months, Stem pieced together a disturbing account of men abusing their power and terrorizing subjects. …

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