Police Oversight Referendum To Appear On Ballot; Police Group Vows Continued Legal Fight

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Fraternal Order of Police -- a group opposed to a voter referendum to establish a community board that would oversee Metro Police -- conceded Thursday, following a lengthy legal battle, that the proposal will in fact be in front of voters on November 6.

But David Raybin, the group’s attorney, warned the results of the referendum would be invalidated if the group succeeds in its continuing legal fight.

After losing its case in circuit court earlier this month, the Fraternal Order of Police asked the state supreme court to take up the question of whether proponents of the oversight board, Community Oversight Now, had gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November election. The group wanted the high court to hear the case and decide before the election on November 6, putting the referendum’s appearance on the ballot into question.

Thursday, the state supreme court issued an order declining to take up the case immediately, instead saying it should proceed through the traditional channels: first an appeal in the Tennessee Court of Appeals and then a potential further appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

“Upon due consideration, the Court concludes that this case does not raise issues warranting the Court’s exercise of its authority to assume jurisdiction,” the justices wrote in a united decision.

With that order, the Fraternal Order of Police said the referendum will now appear on the ballot in November. While Raybin said the Fraternal Order of Police will actively campaign against the proposal for a community oversight board, the legal fight will continue, with the results of the referendum thrown out if a court decides Community Oversight Now did not gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The court order came on the same day Metro Police officer Andrew Delke was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Daniel Hambrick and then decommissioned.

Members of Community Oversight Now said the shooting death and homicide charge proves the need for a board of community members established to oversee members of Metro Police.

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