FOP: Public safety at-risk as Metro officer shortage worsens

(WSMV file photo)

A Metro Council member has filed a bill that would require a community oversight board to investigate police misconduct. Metro police say they don’t want it and they’re not happy about it.

Jocques Clemmons was fatally shot by Metro Officer Joshua Lippert after pulling a gun in February 2016. Police, the TBI and the district attorney’s office all investigated and found Lippert did nothing wrong.

A group now wants a community oversight board where community members would investigate potential police misconduct.

“It could be something as bad as a law enforcement officer killing someone, or it could be as simple as someone feeling like a law enforcement officer may have stolen something from their car,” said Councilman Scott Davis, who introduced the bill.

Davis called this the most important legislation he’s ever introduced.

“It’s scary for me because you want to be fair and just and not be this bad guy that accuses law enforcement, but at the same time you have to stick up for our community and your people,” he said.

Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood opposes the bill. He worries it will affect morale and make officers afraid to do their jobs.

Smallwood called it a solution to a problem Nashville doesn’t have.

“We are the most accountable police department that I know of, and to say we’re not holding our police responsible for their actions, it’s a farce. It makes no sense to me,” Smallwood said.

Smallwood also called the bill illegal. In a letter to Metro Council members, he said the legislation violates some of the basic rights afforded by the Constitution.

“It doesn’t afford any due process whatsoever for a police officer. It violates Tennessee criminal procedure. It opens up open criminal investigations to the public,” he said.

Davis told News 4 he’s willing to make changes to the bill to compromise.

Smallwood wants taxpayers to write their council members asking them to get rid of it altogether.

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Carley Gordon joined the News4 team as a reporter in 2009.

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