House passes bill that would disband community oversight boards

Legislation now headed to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.
Nashville's Community Oversight Board currently conducts reviews, audits, and investigates claims of misconduct.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 9:24 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2023 at 7:55 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A bill that would disband police community oversight boards is headed to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk.

The Tennessee House of Representatives voted 67-19 in favor of disbanding the boards if they did not conform to the new legislation. The Senate previously approved the bill on April 6.

A police advisory and review committee would replace the COB and would only be able to audit what the police have already investigated and provided recommendations on.

Opponents of the bill point to the death of Tyre Nichols and say police accountability is needed now more than ever.

“We should be increasing our conversations about police accountability and oversight. Reigning in any type of police violence through democratic mechanisms like oversight boards,” said Rep. Justin Jones, D-Nashville. “But this bill that you’re proposing is a slap in the face to voters in Davidson County, once again.”

The lawmakers heading up this bill say this model will ensure timely, fair, and objective review of citizen complaints while protecting the rights of police officers.

“I think it is important that citizens have an opportunity to bring their issues forward,” explained Rep. Elaine Davis, R-Knoxville. “This allows for that and, as amended, this allows statewide standards that have been proven effective.”

In Nashville, Davidson County voters initiated a charter amendment to create the board in 2018.

The move to create a Community Oversight Board in Nashville began shortly after the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons in February 2017 by a Metro Nashville Police officer. It continued to pick up steam a year later with the July 2018 shooting death of Daniel Hambrick by Officer Andrew Delke.

Voters approved the amendment to create the Community Oversight Board in November 2018. It was established to investigate allegations surrounding the Metro Nashville Police Department and the community with an unbiased perspective.