Legislature May Oversee Nashville Police Oversight Board, Citing Constitutional Concerns

Nashville’s police oversight board may receive its own oversight – before it even launches.

Ever since Nashville-Davidson County voters approved the $10 million-plus oversight board in a Nov. 6 referendum titled Amendment 1, prompting concerns from police officers, leading Tennessee Republican legislators have set their sights on the initiative.

The board has broad powers to investigate officers and call for punishments by the District Attorney, grand jury, or U.S. Attorney, and can even compel witnesses, according to its Metro Nashville webpage. Nominations to the board are due today.

Speaker-elect Rep. Glen Casada (R-TN-63), plans to study the oversight board when the Legislature convenes in January, NewsChannel 5 said.

“This is an issue we will investigate further when session begins in January with all interested parties and stakeholders that have concerns about Amendment 1 and its impact on law enforcement,” Casada said. “The safety of our citizens is paramount and we must ensure our counties and municipalities do not violate the state’s constitutional duty to protect all Tennesseans.”

State Rep. William Lamberth (R-TN-44), the incoming House majority leader, told Nashville Public Radio the board is redundant since there are other methods to oversee police.

“To spend an enormous amount of money to have an additional oversight board to do this, does appear to me to be a colossal waste of money,” Lamberth told Nashville Public Radio.

James Smallwood, Nashville FOP

A police representative said he is glad the Legislature is concerned about the board.

“The flaws embedded in the current charter language regarding the community oversight board are beyond concerning,” James Smallwood, president of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police, told The Tennessee Star in an email.

“With the exception of being a Davidson County resident, there are virtually no standards that potential board members will be required to meet before appointment,” Smallwood said. “There are no requirements on what training and knowledge board members should have and the charter language budgets an unprecedented $1.5 million annually. These issues, along with the many others we have discussed in recent months, should be concerning to anyone who is interested in the future of the Nashville community. We are certainly glad to see that the state legislature shares these concerns and is looking to see what standards would be reasonable for such an entity to achieve before becoming operational.”

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.








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3 Thoughts to “Legislature May Oversee Nashville Police Oversight Board, Citing Constitutional Concerns”

  1. […] Republicans in the Tennessee General Assembly began looking at regulating Nashville’s new police oversight board in December, The Tennessee Star reported. […]

  2. […] As The Tennessee Star reported last month, the COB may receive its own oversight before it even launches. […]

  3. Horatio Bunce

    The same legislature that colludes with law enforcement over the unaccountable, 4th amendment and due process violating “policy” of asset forfeiture is now going to continue their conspiracy against the people with removing any independent oversight of citizen review. That is the optic. When the legislature addresses the continued armed robbery with no charges and no trial of “law enforcement” committed on our roads called asset forfeiture (“law enforcement” steals more at the point of their guns with no charges filed/no due process than all other theft combined at this point), and then addresses the qualified immunity that “law enforcement” enjoys with no consequences due to criminal acts committed “on duty”, then maybe the people would believe you are concerned about the safety of all Tenneseeans – not just the agents of the state. When the vehicular homicide of James Garner isn’t swept under the rug and the THP’s actions are left for the citizens to pay through the civil court system, then I would believe you care about the safety of all Tennesseans. When Forrest is “punished” with his $80k per year pension for stealing all that overtime pay jet-setting with Moonbeam….you think nobody noticed? That nobody knew? And they don’t need oversight?

    Notice what happens to this Nashville citizen when a little citizen oversight (dash cam) is applied to the officer who claims “we don’t lie”. His false search and seizure fishing expedition comes to a screeching halt. Who is doing this kind of pretext stop fishing expedition training of these officers in Nashville and why does the legislature think no oversight is necessary? Do you really need specialized training to identify a liar? What it looks like to be falsely accused? To dismiss a case when there is no corroborating witness or evidence beyond a state agent that has a financial conflict of interest in their “sworn affidavit” (aka traffic ticket)? How many other false police reports has this officer filed because the traveler didn’t have a camera and it was simply the cheapest way out to pay Nashville’s extortioners?