Man has been arrested 539 times in 23 years, court records show

Robert Dale Brown

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There’s a man who has been arrested by Metro-Nashville police 539 times, and he was arrested yet again on Wednesday.

His name is Robert Dale Brown, and he has been getting arrested almost half his life.

His ignominious history includes 56 failures to appear and 25 failures to be booked, according to one arrest affidavit.

When you wind back through the years, through Metro court records, you’ll see the 48-year-old was first arrested in Davidson County in 1994. Brown was charged with possession of a hallucinogenic drug.

Five-hundred and thirty-nine times for things like criminal trespassing, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and vandalism.

During one arrest in 2006, Brown allegedly shouted that the world belonged to him and police had no right to arrest him. According to the affidavit, he resisted arrest while spitting on the officers.

The most recent arrest Wednesday was for public intoxication at the Exxon station on Rosa Parks Boulevard.

According to court documents, he was standing outside the store drinking from a bottle of vodka and is accused of refusing to leave.

The question is how does someone get arrested 539 times before someone locks him up and throws away the key?

Assistant District Attorney Katie Ladefoged knows Brown very well. He has shown up before her in court many, many times.

By phone, she said you can’t throw someone in jail and throw away the key if the level of the crime they are committing is a C misdemeanor, the lowest misdemeanor usually punishable by a maximum of only 30 days in jail.

“I understand the frustration. Mr. Brown is an incredible drain on our time and our community and could be a danger to the community, and he is a continual drain and threat to himself. In large part, the crimes he is charged with are almost always a C misdemeanor. The maximum they carry is 30 days in jail, and he would serve less than those 30 days. So I can’t lock him away forever, ever, on one crime, because none of his cases carry that long a sentence,” she explained.

Davidson County sheriff Daron Hall issued this statement:

“Unfortunately, we see daily evidence of how the criminal justice system needs to improve when dealing with these types of cases. It’s Sheriff Daron Hall’s vision, when our Behavioral Care Center opens in 18 months, to address problems such as this and tackle decriminalizing our most vulnerable citizens.”

According to Ladefoged, Brown will be in court on Sept. 19. He will remain in the Davidson County jail until then.

“Doing life two days at a time is a terrible way to live, and his life, in general, is terrible,” she added.

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