In today’s social climate, law enforcement in general is disrespected, and vilified on a regular basis. So far this year 34 police officers across the country have been shot and killed, due in part to their concern they will not have the backing of their departments and become headline news, which can cost them their job,and in these cases, the ultimate price of their lives. Unfortunately, in many police agencies the morale is low, while the concern for the community outweighs concern for their officers.
This is clearly the case for my brothers and sisters in blue on the Nashville Metro Police Department as a new mayor seems to have other interests besides his police. To be clear, yes, it is important and vital to have mutual respect for the communities in which you serve. While members and leaders within neighborhoods must feel they can trust the police, it also goes the other way, where the police should be able to trust and rely on them as well.
This is the beginning of a conversation on what Mayor Briley has been non-committal on, and what certain members of the black community are demanding..a community oversight committee. Briley, who took over as Mayor after former Mayor Megan Berry was discovered having an affair with her police bodyguard, states” I believe it’s time for a comprehensive assessment of how we do policing in our city,”
According to the Tennessean Newspaper, the board would have authority to investigate allegations of misconduct against Nashville police officers and recommend discipline, including forwarding findings of criminal misconduct and civil rights violations to the district attorney, grand jury or U.S. attorney.
So what is a Community Oversight Committee or Civilian Review Board? A municipal body composed of five to nine citizen representatives charged with the investigation of complaints by members of the public concerning misconduct by police officers. Such bodies may be independent members of the community, whose goal is to ensure transparency and accountability using rules and guidelines set forth by their initial formation. To be effective, members of these committees must remain unbiased, fair and reasonable.They also must be willing to look at all complaints, not just those involving their own community. After sharing input, and their findings, they must be willing to accept outcomes driven by investigations and facts. As with any fact finding agendas, fairness is paramount to a successful relationship.
Unfortunately, what we have seen so far from the Community Oversight Nashville, is what an Oversight Committee should NOT be. According to their website, their are several organizations who have joined their coalition. Many are legitimate, well organized,and well recognized for their work in black communities across the country, such as the NAACP. One group, that may give a black eye to this committee is Black Lives Matter. Their involvement loses all credibility and legitimacy of what should be a fair, unbiased board.
After reading through the Black Lives Matter Nashville website, it is clearly evident they are anti-police, and racist. In a statement issued by BLM in reference to a rally last year in Shelbyville TN, they say this:
One must ask how an organization that wants to oversee actions of the police, would be unbiased, when they believe law enforcement entities are run by white supremacists. Another issue with BLM is its formation was attached to a false narrative during the Ferguson riots, using the chant “Hands up don’t shoot”, insinuating Michael Brown was shot and killed while trying to surrender to the police officer. This was proven to be false in two separate rulings. Can those chanting “pigs in a blanket” or What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now”! be a viable , effective participant in a committee who is seeking justice based on facts?
With Black Lives Matter involved , it will not be an oversight committee, but rather an overreach one. They don’t want justice, they seek revenge. Nashville can and must do better.
Coming up in Part Two: Who is Leading the Charge for the Oversight Committee?
Part Three: What powers should an Oversight Committee have?