Social Justice Cliques: Inside Tennessee’s Community Oversight Boards and Their Relationships with Local Police Departments

Any time an officer-involved shooting or alleged police misconduct occurs, community oversight boards are thrust center stage. In response to activists’ social justice demands over the years, some of Tennessee’s major cities – like Memphis, Knoxville, and Nashville – have established versions of community oversight boards to review police misconduct and accountability. It comes as no surprise, then, that the majority within these community oversight boards share similar social justice inclinations. 

A large portion of members’ concerns has to do with race, such as racial profiling in arrests or traffic stops, or concerning officer-involved shootings. In its latest meeting, Knoxville’s community oversight board expressed surprise that no racial discrimination claims were filed per their quarterly report. Other popular topics include equity, restorative justice, immigration, and mental health.

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Nashville Attorneys Offers Up $2.25 Million Settlement for Daniel Hambrick Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Metro Nashville attorneys settled for $2.25 million with the parents of Daniel Hambrick in their wrongful death lawsuit. That settlement wouldn’t bring closure to the entirety of the ordeal, however. The settlement will not resolve a separate case concerning Andrew Delke, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officer who shot Hambrick. Delke still faces a first-degree murder charge.

By offering this settlement, Metro government clarified that neither they or Delke were admitting to any wrongdoing or liability. Metropolitan Director of Law Bob Cooper suggested that this settlement would help offer some closure for the community.

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Resigned Community Oversight Board Member Is a Convicted Felon, Not Registered Voter as Required by Tennessee Law

Previous Community Oversight Board (COB) member Ovid Timothy Hughes somehow skirted the Tennessee Code’s standards for COB membership. Hughes isn’t a registered voter – he’s a convicted felon. That begs the question: the COB’s purpose is to ensure police accountability on issues such as misconduct, but what happens when the members themselves aren’t being held accountable?

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office confirmed with The Tennessee Star that Hughes isn’t an eligible voter. They explained that he was purged in 2008 for a felony conviction. This corroborates with details The Star reported on Friday. Hughes was arrested and charged for mail fraud, spending over $78,000 on items such as computer equipment and designer clothing using stolen credit card and private account information from a former employer.

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Nashville Community Oversight Board Member Who Resigned Unexpectedly Has Lengthy Criminal Record

Up until last week Ovid Timothy Hughes was a member of Nashville’s Community Oversight Board (COB), dedicated to enforcing police accountability. However, Hughes wasn’t your typical concerned citizen on the COB – he has a lengthy criminal history himself. 

Between 2001 and 2002, Hughes racked up several felony charges for burglary. He was sentenced to two years in the private prison Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, and two years’ probation. Then in 2008, Hughes was arrested and charged for mail fraud. Hughes had reportedly stolen credit card and private account information from his previous employer. From 2006 to 2007, Hughes used the information to spend over $78,000 on items such as computer equipment and designer clothing.

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Metro Nashville City Council Votes Exclusively for Social Justice Proponents to Serve on Community Oversight Board

The Community Oversight Board (COB) received four new members – all bringing similar perspectives and agendas concerning police. Metro Nashville City Council voted on the nominees during a meeting on Tuesday.

None of the nominees from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) – former mayoral candidate Dr. Carol Swain, former FOP President Mark Wynn, community members Mary Byrd and Brandy Holloway – were selected. Of all the votes cast, Holloway received no votes, Byrd only received one, Swain only received two, and Wynn received ten.

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Metro Nashville Council Committee Objects to Dr. Carol Swain’s Qualifications for Community Oversight Board

Metro Nashville City Council’s Community Oversight Board (COB) might continue to behave more like a police oversight board. During a special interview meeting on Thursday, the council’s Committee on Rules, Confirmations, and Public Elections raised objections to only one nominee: Dr. Carol Swain. The committee also posed slanted questions to those nominees that had law enforcement relationships or affiliations.

Swain stated that her qualifications include her 18 years as a Vanderbilt political science and law professor, her degrees in law and criminal justice, her two appointments to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission Tennessee Advisory Committee, her courses taught on civil rights issues, and her multiple testimonies before Congress on civil rights issues. Additionally, Swain noted that while she was at Princeton University, her two sons experienced racial profiling and her intervention led to an investigation that ended with police reforms not just in the town of Princeton but within the community. However, the committee voted that those weren’t proper qualifications.

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Community Oversight Board Declares Use of Force Consent Decrees for Metro Police

The Community Oversight Board (COB) approved a report issuing use of force consent decree recommendations. Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) will work with the COB to implement these recommendations.
Mayor John Cooper tasked members within the Community Oversight Board to explore use of force policies following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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Trans Women Will Help Oversee Nashville Police If Community Oversight Board Gets its Way

Trans women of color and formerly incarcerated individuals in Nashville, among other groups, must help city officials monitor members of the Metro Nashville Police Department, said members of the city’s Community Oversight Board.

COB members said this in a letter they sent to Mayor John Cooper this week. Cooper invited members of the COB to serve on a Use of Force Committee. COB members accepted.

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Nashville’s Community Oversight Board Wants to Help Select Police Chief Steve Anderson’s Replacement

  Members of Nashville’s Metro Community Oversight Board plan to help city officials find Nashville’s next police chief. “Following Mayor John Cooper’s announcement today of Chief Steve Anderson’s decision to retire as Chief of Police, the Community Oversight Board (COB) looks forward to being involved in the selection process of…

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Partin Weighs in on Executive Director, William Weeden’s Resignation from Metro Nashville Community Oversight Committee

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist, Norm Partin to discuss the recent resignation of Metro Nashville Community Oversight Committee (MNCO) Executive Director William Weeden.

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Tennessee Legislature’s Conference Committee Compromises on Community Oversight Board Subpoena Power

A Conference Committee of the Tennessee legislature met on Monday to resolve a major difference between the House and Senate when it comes to community oversight boards – subpoena powers. The Conference Committee, appointed by the Speakers of each respective body included, Senators Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro) and…

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The Tennessee Star Report Discusses Legislation to Put Guardrails on Community Oversight Boards with Special Guest State Rep. Mike Curcio

On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy talked about the current oversight boards and the need for ‘guard rails’ to prevent mismanagement by unelected…

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Number of People Applying for Nashville Police Reportedly Falls Dramatically

In 2010 about 4,700 people applied to work as a police officer in Nashville. Seven years later the number of people who wanted to work as a cop in Music City dwindled to just 1,900 people. This, according to the website Oregon Live, which did a story about more and…

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