NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new bill is looking to abolish community oversight boards in major cities across Tennessee.
“When it comes to policing, there could not have been a worse time in our state to do this,” said Makayla McCree.
Back in 2018, Nashville voters approved adding a community oversight board.
McCree was appointed to Nashville’s board back in 2021, and found out about the bill the same day the Tyre Nichols videos were released.
“Horrible timing at best and just completely insensitive to the nature of all the things that are going on here in Tennessee,” she said.
Republican Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) sponsored this bill that, if passed, would authorize municipalities to create police advisory and review committees that would review citizen complaints as well as make recommendations to those complaints.
“We’ll be returning to a process in which community members who are most affected by some of these issues will have no voice in the process in how their situations will be remedied,” said McCree.
Michael Milliner was elected board chair last fall and says Nashville’s board is needed. He also believes if this bill passes, it would defeat the main purpose of having an oversight board.
“The word oversight is not collaboration,” he said. “It is not an after the fact audit. It is a prescriptive kind of term that says that there needs to be light shown on the practices of our local law enforcement agencies and there needs to be the ability to investigate complaints of alleged police misconduct.”
Right now the bill is still in its early stages, but both members believe its something that’s directly targeting the city of Nashville.
“They don’t understand the best interest of Nashvillians,” said McCree. “Nashvillians have spoken for Nashvillians and this is what they voted for, so I think they should stay out of Nashville’s business.”
The Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP released a statement also opposing this law believing it would significantly worsen police community tensions.
Senator Pody’s office released a statement to News 2’s request for comment Tuesday, Feb. 14, which reads:
“Community oversight boards in general are a great concept and can benefit a community by improving transparency and accountability. On the other hand, there have been instances in Tennessee of board members over stepping their bounds and behaving in ways that hindered rather than enhanced certain investigations. This bill seeks to implement statewide standards as well as training for board members to ensure they’re qualified for the job and that oversight boards across the state effectively carry out their mission.”
News 2 also reached out to the bill’s other sponsor, Rep. Elaine Davis (R-Knoxville), but was told by her staff she had headed back to her district and wasn’t available for an interview.