The push by Community Oversight Now for an independent and investigative agency to address police accountability is 25 years in the making, as Nashville civil rights activists initially proposed it in 1992. Furthermore, a review board with independent powers has been a central demand of civil rights and police accountability advocates since the 1960s. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. first endorsed this measure in the 1960s.
Other reasons why Nashville needs an independent, oversight board are:
- Nearly 700 citizen complaints were filed each year against the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) from 2005-2015 (7,000 total), 98% of which were decided against the complainants.
- Countless citizens whose rights are allegedly violated by law enforcement, including domestic violence survivors, never file complaints because they see the process as flawed and fear retaliation.
- The “Driving While Black” report assessing 2 million MNPD stops from 2011-2015 found racial bias regarding police stops and roadside searches.
- Statements from the District Attorney and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation offices have noted institutional bias in the action of the MNPD during the investigation of the killing of Jocques Clemmons.
- In Summer 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service recommended an independent police oversight board for Nashville.
- The Davidson County Grand Jury requested more civilian input in allegations of law enforcement misconduct in its “end-of-term” report in Spring 2017.