Metro voters to decide greater civilian oversight of police

Oct 9, 2018



NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  One of the items Nashville voters will see on their November 6 ballot is a referendum calling for the creation of a civilian oversight board for Metro Police.


The movement gained momentum following recent controversial police-involved shootings of black residents. But Gicola Lane with the group Community Oversight Now says stronger civilian oversight is actually a much older idea.


“It’s been a push for about 45 years here locally in Nashville, but this time it actually…it sprung up again after Jocques Clemmons was killed in 2017.”

The oversight board would include eleven members with two chosen by the mayor and two chosen by Metro Council. Four members have to come from what the petition calls “economically distressed communities.”


Police officers and elected officials would not be permitted to serve on the board.


The oversight board would have the authority to investigate any complaint of police misconduct. It would also have the power to compel witnesses and its own investigators.


The board would not have the authority to punish or fire police officers, but could recommend cases for prosecution at the local and federal level.


The Fraternal Order of Police is vehemently opposed to the initiative. FOP President James Smallwood complains the board could cost the city $10 million over five years.


“It’s going to be an astronomical cost for something that…the city already has several layers of oversight. We’re going to spend another $10 million to add another redundant layer so that’s our big concern of ours.”


If approved November 6, the police oversight board would begin its work January 1, 2019.


Would you like to read the wording of the referendum?