Tennessee governor quietly signs law dissolving police oversight boards meant to investigate police misconduct

In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, a memorial is set up in a neighborhood where Nashville Officer Josh Lippert shot Jocques Scott Clemmons in Nashville, Tenn. Federal officials on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, agreed with a state decision not to prosecute Lipper, a white Tennessee police officer, who fatally shot Clemmons, a black man, after a traffic stop.
A memorial where police officer Josh Lippert shot Jocques Scott Clemmons in Nashville, Tennessee in 2017.AP Photo/Jonathan Mattise, File
  • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a law dissolving independent police oversight boards in the state.

  • One such board was created after the 2017 police shooting of Jocques Clemmons in Nashville.

  • The boards investigated claims and allegations made against police departments.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation this week dissolving independent oversight boards meant to investigate police departments in the state.

The law will replace the community-led boards with "review committees" that will be comprised of members appointed by a mayor. Those members will then only be able to refer complaints to law enforcement internal affairs, according to the Associated Press.

Nashville residents voted to form one of these boards in 2018, a year after the shooting of Jocques Clemmons. The 31-year-old Black man was shot and killed by a white police officer — identified as Joshua Lippert — during a traffic stop, WZTV, a local Nashville Fox affiliate, reported.

Lippert was not charged in connection to the incident after arguing self-defense. Police claimed that when Clemmons fled from the scene, he had a gun in his possession, the Tennessean reported. The decision not to charge Lippert sparked protests in the community, and residents called on local officials to take action.

Residents have spoken out against the changes to the committee, and plan to push back against the new law, WZTV reported.

"You need an outside independent board that can investigate use of force investigations," Sekou Franklin, a local community leader, told the news station. "The analogy to use is what happens if a restaurant had the opportunity to investigate its own self when it comes to food inspections."

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