Police reform bill: Tennessee lawmakers considering changes in police policy, training

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Posted at 6:50 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 19:48:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill is making its way through the Tennessee legislature that if made law, would implement changes with local police departments.

This legislation is a part of a bigger picture with Gov. Bill Lee. Last year, following the national outcry from the George Floyd case, the governor announced a partnership with state law enforcement agencies to improve information sharing and police training.

This bill is based on recommendations from the task force made up of those partnerships. Here are some highlights:

  • When it comes to use of force, officers would need to report it to supervisors and also intervene if an officer is going to harm someone using excessive force if its within their scope of knowledge, training and authority.
  • Officers wouldn't be able to be retaliated against for doing that.
  • It also prohibits judges from issuing no-knock warrants.
  • Plus, chokeholds couldn't be used unless deadly force is authorized.

When Sen. Mike Bell (R –Riceville) was pressed on whether if this actually changes anything in terms of chokeholds, he said, “With this bill, it does say that those factors would have to be present in order for them to be able to use a chokehold, they would have to reasonably believe that deadly force is justified."

Agencies would also have to report use of force incidents monthly to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. This passed the Senate unanimously on Monday and heads over to a House subcommittee on Wednesday.