When metro Nashville voters go to the polls on Election Day, they will decide whether to establish a “Community Oversight Board.” This proposal known as “Amendment #1” creates an unelected and unaccountable community activist board with broad disciplinary authority over the Metro Nashville Police Department.
This board will consist of 11 residents of Davidson County that serve a three-year term. Community organizations or private petitioners must nominate seven out of the 11 board members (including four from economically distressed areas) which then are approved by the Metro Council. (See Amendment 1) This amendment, as designed and written, would give excessive influence to unaccountable advocacy organizations and their policy agendas, which includes mass immigration. It will allow groups like Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition and The American Muslim Advisory Council to refashion police department objectives. Moreover, several of the community organizations supporting this amendment are the very same groups that campaigned against strengthening Tennessee’s anti-sanctuary law this year.
According to the amendment, the members seeking to serve on the community board must have “a demonstrated knowledge” relating to civil rights as well as experience with criminal justice and policing practices. The board is to receive training – through either the Metropolitan Nashville’s Citizen Police Academy or an “equivalent training.” However, the amendment voters will consider does not delineate what “demonstrated knowledge” is needed, nor does it define “equivalent training.” The way the language is drafted opens the door to so-called “civil rights groups,” with political agendas like the Southern Poverty Law Center, to provide the training and dictate standards for the community oversight board.
In addition to not clearly delineating the knowledge and training required to serve on the board, the amendment does not clearly exclude those residing illegally in metro Nashville. Ira Mehlman, FAIR’s Media Director, said, it is “highly objectionable that people whose very presence in the community is a violation of the law would be in a position to make recommendations about oversight over a law enforcement department.”
It is not surprising that this proposal is under consideration in metro Nashville as a means to protect illegal aliens and skirt Tennessee’s anti-sanctuary laws. Despite being an anti-sanctuary state, the Metro Council tried to pass two ordinances in 2017 that would have circumvented the state law and make metro Nashville the most radical sanctuary city in the U.S. – even more so than either San Francisco or New York City. Opposition by 70 state legislators to the ordinances and an opinion by Metro Director of Law Jon Cooper caused Metro Council Members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge to withdraw their amendment. However, they stated that they planned to “work through other channels to accomplish their goals.”
When the legislature convened in 2018, it worked quickly to add teeth to its anti-sanctuary law affirming its intent to prevent localities like Nashville from protecting illegal aliens. If this amendment passes in November, the community board could attempt to side-step the state’s new anti-sanctuary law.
Even if the amendment fails to garner enough votes in November, it could still happen. Nashville Mayor David Briley has suggested that he would defy the will of the voters and create the oversight board through an executive order.