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Regulators Open Review Of Metro Police Reporting

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Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:17:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The state board that licenses police in Tennessee says it wants answers.

This comes on the heels of a NewsChannel 5 investigation that exposed how the Metro Police Department has failed to report officers with lengthy suspensions.

At Friday's meeting of the state Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Commission, our investigation was brought up -- and it was clear that members want to know more.

They had a lot of questions after not only seeing our report, but after getting a letter of apology from the Metro police chief, who also sent over dozens of files.

At Friday's board meeting, the executive secretary of the POST Commission expressed concern about how Metro police failed to notify them about dozens of officers who got into trouble and then agreed to leave the force.

Brian Grisham told the commission, "The issue is we're a clearinghouse for background checks and officers have gone on and work at other agencies and we didn't have the information to give the new agency."

The Commission is responsible for certifying or licensing all full-time law enforcement officers in Tennessee.

Members also got copies of a letter from Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, where the chief admitted the department made mistakes and has "taken steps to correct our errors."

The letter was sent just hours before our investigation revealed how, in the last five years, at least 43 Metro officers who violated department policy were allowed to take 30-day suspensions and then resign "in good standing."

Some admitted to serious charges.

Many were facing termination.

During an earlier with NewsChannel 5 Investigates, Chief Anderson insisted, "They did not resign in lieu of termination. They resigned in a settlement agreement."

The chief told us that, under these settlement agreements, the department did not have to report to the state why the officers left the Metro police force.

But state rules do require police departments to report to POST any officer who is suspended for 15 days or more.

And Chief Anderson admitted that Metro had failed to report all of those officers who had agreed to 30-day suspensions along with their resignations.

"We were in error in not reporting those suspension so that POST could review those," Anderson said.

Along with the chief's letter, Metro submitted 80 cases dating back to 2009. We're told this stack included the cases we first exposed, as well as officers who got shorter suspensions.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked the POST's Grisham, "How often do you get a stack of 80 of these files from a department?"

"Not from one department, not very often," he replied.

Grisham says his staff will now carefully go through each case and determine which officers may need to be called before the Commission, which can suspend or revoke a license if an officer is suspended for 30 days or more.

The Commission did make it clear during the meeting that they will be taking a hard look at the cases our investigation uncovered, including that of former Metro officer Chad Knaggs. He was seen on surveillance tape repeatedly kneeing a handcuffed man in a wheelchair.

Knaggs was later charged with assault.

"He was allowed to resign after a 30-day suspension for personal reasons and he has gone on to work for another department," Grisham told the Commission.

In addition to Knaggs, the POST Commission said they've found at least two other officers who left Metro under settlement agreements and went on to work for other police departments.

POST says they will bring in an extra investigator to help go through all of these records that Metro brought them, and staff will report their findings to the full commission at their meeting next month.

The Commission says it takes notification from departments and decertification very seriously. They say it keeps officers from going from department to department causing the same problems.

In fact, when POST decertifies an officer, that officer's name goes into a national database that many agencies check before they hire.

Right now, 37 states take part in that program.

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