The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
According to a former DUI prosecutor, DUI recidivism and fatalities have never been higher in the Nashville area, yet Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk has turned down $354,000 in state funds to prosecute DUI offenders.
According to reports, police in the Nashville area are redoubling their efforts to arrest and charge alcohol or drug impaired drivers but Funk has told state officials that he doesn’t want their money for prosecutions and has refused to sign a contract that would have provided his office with $354,000 to pay for DUI prosecutions over the next year.
The grant was scheduled to be delivered on October 1st of this year but on September 21st, the outgoing head of D.A. Funk’s DUI prosecution team notified the state that Funk is withdrawing the office’s application for fiscal year 2023.
A spokesperson from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office told NewsChannel5 that Funk is the only District Attorney in the entire state that has turned down DUI prosecution money and that he gave no reason for his rejection of the funds.
Ironically, during Funk’s re-election campaign, he boasted that he had helped keep the city safe.
James Smallwood, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, “It’s absolutely mind-boggling. I’ve never seen an elected official turn down money for anything, much less what’s at their core mission, and that’s holding people accountable for the crimes that they commit.”
Funk’s apparent lack of interest in prosecuting DUI offenses comes at a time when deadly crashes involving alcohol in Davidson County are up 82% in the last five years, and drug-related crashes are up 45%.
According to Metro Nashville Police, in 2021, there were 123 fatal car accidents with more than half of that number resulting from impaired drivers.
Smallwood said, “In an environment where we are seeing year after year after year of fatal crashes increasing, why anybody would think it’s reasonable to remove resources is beyond me.”
The Nashville DA’s office has used state grants for years to fund three assistant DAs to focus full-time on bringing DUI offenders to justice.
However, in a report recently submitted to the state, DUI team leader Laney Heard stated, “We have not been able to reduce recidivism or fatalities in this jurisdiction, and in fact, they have never been higher. We have broken all records for fatal crashes, and the numbers are increasing.”
But Heard also wrote, “We lost a grant prosecutor in May 2021 and General Funk chose not to fill that position.” Following, Funk decided to “terminate the grant so we were forced to continue handling cases with less people.”
Funk sent a letter to Nashville’s Criminal Court judges in 2021, stating a concern about “a backlog for DUI jury trials” and making the promise to “attach 3 assistant DAs to the current 3 person DUI team,” but sources tell NewsChannel5 that never happened.
Smallwood said, “A lot of police officers have asked the question: is he the defense attorney or is he the prosecutor? We can’t tell the difference.”
Funk has a history of picking and choosing where he chooses to prosecute offenses.
In October of this year, when President Biden announced that anyone who had a federal conviction for simple marijuana possession would be pardoned, Funk said he had not prosecuted anyone for possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana since June 2020.
In addition, Funk issued a statement in support of Biden’s call for pardons.
In June of this year, when then Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery was taking the necessary steps to codify Tennessee’s new abortion law, Funk said that he would not prosecute any doctor for providing abortion services, regardless of the law.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com