Chairman Curcio Introduces Legislation Implementing Balanced Community Oversight Board Guidelines

February 5, 2019

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — State Representative Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) today introduced legislation aimed at creating balance within community oversight boards across Tennessee.

Backed by Republican leadership, this legislation balances both the interests of our citizens to voice their opinion while also protecting the fundamental rights of officers and their families from malicious or politically focused persecution.

Community oversight boards have existed since the 1950s, and there are presently no guidelines outlined in Tennessee state law that defines how they are created, who can serve on them, and what their specific function is. This measure provides much needed structure to all current and future community oversight boards in Tennessee, which is critical to their overall success, as well as overall safety in Tennessee.

“I am pleased to introduce this legislation that creates an all-inclusive approach to enhance transparency within our police departments, while also ensuring everyone is treated respectfully and justly during any review of misconduct involving our law enforcement members,” said Representative Curcio. “This legislation mirrors best practices observed by the National Institute for Justice and will help create a balanced solution that benefits all involved.”

“As Republican leaders, we support our brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives and make tremendous sacrifices as they serve their communities,” said members of House Republican Leadership. “We also remain committed to protecting the voice of our citizens and understand the importance of holding law enforcement to a higher standard of conduct. Not only does this legislation address the critical need for transparency, but it is a fair solution to all.”

BACKGROUND

  • This legislation places guardrails on community oversight boards statewide in three significant ways:

o   Removes subpoena power.

o   Requires reporting to the General Assembly.

o   Limits the board to registered voters from the jurisdiction for which it serves.

  • The board will not restrict or limit its membership based upon demographics, economic status, or employment history.
  • Any document provided to the board by agencies shall be treated as confidential and shall not be released to the public.
  • There are mechanisms currently in place to provide oversight of our law enforcement (e.g., TBI, DA, and Comptroller), but this bill acknowledges support of citizen boards while implementing best practices.