NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Some Metro council members want to ban police officers from using tear gas in Nashville. It’s one of several use of force policies up for discussion.
This comes as protesters in Nashville have been demanding changes to how police officers interact with the communities they serve.
One proposed bill prohibits MNPD from hiring police officers who were previously fired or under investigation by another law enforcement agency for use of force.
“This is a bill that is going to provide some preventive measures for some of the things that we’ve been experiencing: having officers with a history of abuse or some type of misconduct that we hire and there is evidence in propensity for them to act out those same types of behaviors,” said At-Large Council Member Sharon Hurt.
Another measure calls for limitations on use of force such as an officer witnessing another officer’s use of force that appears unnecessary being required to intervene.
There’s also one bill that would ban metro police from using tear gas, which happened the night of May 30 during riots downtown.
“Tear gas is not used in international warfare, yet it is legal to be used in police departments throughout the country. It was recently used in protests in Nashville and it’s been used around the country. I’m introducing this bill in order to begin to discontinue that,” said District 7 Council Member Emily Benedict.
District 26 Council Member Courtney Johnston said she talked with Metro Police about how often tear gas is used by officers.
“It has literally not been used I don’t think since the 70s. No one on the force can remember it being used. Chief Anderson has been on the force since 75 and it has not been used to his recollection and there were several other members of MNPD that had no recollection of it except for on May the 30,” Johnston said. “It was a last resort type thing. It was literally to defend the courthouse. They were outnumbered and the courthouse was being attacked so it was the only way to disperse that. It’s actually a tactic for de-escalation. Otherwise, they have to use force. I’d rather them use tear gas to disperse than have to go in with nightsticks or whatever.”
The bill passed its first reading with 16 yes votes, 13 no votes, and 10 abstained. The other two measures were deferred to the next council meeting.
Read the proposals on the council meeting agenda.