NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The community group responsible for holding Metro police accountable through its independent investigations is just one signature away from being abolished.
HB0764/SB0591 passed the Tennessee Senate 67 to 19 on Thursday and will now head to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
Around 58% of Nashville locals voted in favor of establishing the Metro Community Oversight Board in 2018, which is tasked with handling citizens’ complaints, investigating officer-involved shootings, checking in at crime scenes, and recommending department policy changes, in addition to having subpoena powers.
Some lawmakers drafted a bill that would replace the COB with a committee similar to that of Knoxville’s, called the Police Advisory and Review Committee. The group would review citizens’ complaints while protecting the individual rights of police officers, according to the bill’s language.
“We have a 25-year history of it working very well in Knoxville, Tennessee,” Sen. Richard Briggs (R—Knoxville) said. “The police agree, the community agrees, and it’s doing exactly what these boards are supposed to do.”
If the bill is signed into law, the seven members would be appointed by the mayor instead of the Metro COB’s current process of being selected from community groups.
The executive director of Metro’s COB, Jill Fitcheard, told News 2 that eliminating oversight of the Metro Nashville Police Department could encourage officer misconduct and ultimately threaten the safety of citizens.
“I think the state should stay out of local government and let them run the government as they should, and how they’ve been doing it has been doing it good,” Fletcher said.
If the governor doesn’t veto the bill, it would become law in 90 days.