Op-Ed by Daniel Stuebs
The voters of the City of Nashville approved Amendment 1 to the city’s charter on November 6, 2018 by an overwhelming margin. The final margin of 59 to 41 percent demonstrated that the amendment to the City of Nashville’s charter had a clear majority from the voters. Now with Amendment 1 already earned the mandate of the voters, what is next for the future of police oversight in Nashville?
The Community Oversight Board had their 11 members chosen by the Nashville Metro Council on January 22nd. The eleven members were selected from a pool of 150 applicants coming from diverse backgrounds. When looking at who is serving on the board, there is a balanced composition in place with various qualifications. Four members are community activists, one serves as the deputy chief medical examiner for Davidson County, three are officers of the Nashville Metropolitan Police, and the remainder of the appointees work professionally in the legal field. Members of the Community Oversight Board began their work on March 29th and will serve three year terms that will expire in 2022.
Chicago Attorney named William Weeden was selected as the executive director for the Community Oversight Board on April 8th. Mr. Weeden handles the day to day operating responsibilities of the board. Weeden’s ties to the Nashville Area include graduating from Fisk University with his Bachelor’s degree. Other key support staff have been hired to ensure the full operation. Nashville’s Amendment 1 came at a hefty price tag of $1.5 million dollars.
With the Community Oversight Board taking power in Nashville, the Tennessee General Assembly responded. The state’s legislature introduced legislation to greatly curtail the power of police oversight boards. There was division between the Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate on how they wanted to curtail the power of the boards. The House version called for completely curtailing power, Both houses of the Legislature compromised on the final version of the board that allows the board to obtain subpoenas through the city council.
With the Community Oversight Board now in operation, time will tell if the quality of policing in Nashville will be impacted.
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