NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new bill that would require a community oversight board to investigate police misconduct is set to go before the Metro Council for the first time Tuesday.
The bill is sponsored by Council Member Scott Davis. He said the bill is not intended to be anti-law enforcement.
“This is probably the hardest piece of legislation I have ever pushed forward,” said Council Member Davis. “The majority of our police are great, but beyond that, there are a select few we have to worry about.”
Concerns started after Jocques Clemmons, an African American man, was shot to death by a white Metro police officer in February. The officer was not charged. Ever since, many have protested and expressed concerns with how the investigation was handled.
Currently, complaints filed against Metro Police are investigated by the police department. Davis said the community oversight board would provide an independent perspective. He said the board could help prevent tensions that developed after the Clemmons shooting.
Davis said the proposed community oversight board would consist of 11 volunteers from across the community. Participants can’t be current employees of any law enforcement agency, elected officials, or their spouses. Seven of the members would be nominated by community organizations, two would be nominated by the Metro Council and two would be nominated by the Mayor. The board would have full access to Metro Police Department records, and the board could refer the matter to the Davidson County grand jury, or request the grand jury investigate the issue.
A group called “Community Oversight Now” worked with Council Member Davis for months to draft the legislation.
“There was an outcry from the community for oversight of the police department,” said Jackie Sims, who helped work on the legislation. “It provides for some clarity, oversight, and transparency so the community can know that justice was served.”
However, not everyone is supporting the idea. Metro Police released a statement regarding the bill: “The sponsor of the proposed ordinance has had no communication with Chief Anderson regarding it. We are reviewing the proposal, but, frankly, are extremely alarmed by its provisions. This proposed ordinance, we believe, seeks to put forth a remedy to a situation that does not exist in Nashville.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Megan Barry also released a statement: “Mayor Barry agreed to convene stakeholders and community members later this year to discuss the issue of community oversight, using a nationally renowned group called the Policing Project to help facilitate those conversations. She has not endorsed the legislation filed by Council member Davis which has not undergone that stakeholder engagement process.”
Click here, for more information about the Community Oversight Now group that helped draft the bill.