It seems Tennessee’s police officers need diversity training, one lawmaker believes, and he has filed a bill in the General Assembly to force that training.
State Rep. Yusuf Hakeem (D-TN-28) of Chattanooga on Jan. 30 filed HB0321. The bill’s caption says it would require “law enforcement officers to satisfactorily complete a diversity training program created by the peace officer standards and training commission by July 1, 2021, or within six months of the officer’s date of employment.”
State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-TN-10) of Chattanooga is the Senate sponsor.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press says the bill would require the training to take place every year. The bill caption does not mention annual training.
According to the Times Free Press:
“There is a concern within the city, and our community, as to what is perceived as excessive force,” said Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, a Democrat and the lone black member of Hamilton County’s legislative delegation. “I think part of the problem is that people don’t really know each other.”
The legislation is in response to several encounters between police and black suspects.
However, Hakeem’s and Gardenhire’s bills could be redundant in nature.
Some skeptics say a directive from former Gov. Bill Haslam that requires diversity training for cadets already addresses the issue.
The Tennessee Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) Commission is responsible for developing and enforcing standards and training for all local police officers. The curriculum includes cultural and diversity training.
The Pew Charitable Trust says there are several methods that work in relieving minority-police tension include “hiring officers who know and understand the community, asking officers to build better relationships with neighborhoods they serve, reducing officers’ use of aggressive arrest tactics and increasing officer training.”
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “Yusuf Hakeem (left)” by Yusuf Hakeem. Background Photo “Nashville Police Department” by the City of Nashville.