Coonrod Hopeful Police Oversight Board Will "Create A Level Of Accountability"

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - by Joseph Dycus
Demetrus Coonrod
Demetrus Coonrod

City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said Tuesday she believes the new police oversight committee "will hopefully create a level of accountability for law enforcement in Chattanooga." However, she said she is disappointed that the board does not have the power to discipline officers it finds committed infractions.

She said, "I think in Chattanooga, it’s another process that’s going to hold police accountable. It’s like they’ve got that reminder over their shoulder that’s like, ‘If I do something wrong, then this oversight board is going to hold me accountable.’”

“We have a police chief, Chief Roddy, who most definitely wants us to do the right thing, so he’s on board with it. And my thing is, with this oversight board, it gives them protection. So if any other mayor comes in or another council comes in, it’s already in our ordinance and it’s chartered to go on. Unless, of course, the next council comes in and doesn’t vote on it.”

She said, “This is the system that’s in place. If I have a problem with the police, something I feel like didn’t get handled correctly, I’d report that. I can go to internal affairs, and it enters the investigation process.  Once it goes in front of the oversight board, they’ll review it and say ‘It needs to be re-investigated or we’re going to make sure the sanction is correctly applied to what’s happening.’”

However, she said the committee "lacks any sort of ability to enforce punishments to misbehaving officers or law enforcement found to be guilty of wrongdoing. The reason for this has to do with laws at the state level prohibiting this sort of power, even though a city like Nashville has an oversight committee with the ability to enforce punishment.

“There’s no actual teeth in it, because the state of Tennessee, you know, came and said we can’t do that. Even though Nashville won in the balloting process in that and has the power to prosecute and things like that in there. The state needs to look at changing their laws so that cities and municipalities can do what’s best for their communities. We should be able to govern our things, and we should be able to do those things without the state trying to mandate what we can and can’t do.”

While the oversight committee would not concern itself with the matters of the Sheriff’s Department, Ms. Coonrod said she found the conduct of certain deputies to be concerning. She also levied criticism at District Attorney Neal Pinkston for his "lack of action."

She said, “We have deputies now that have been investigated, that are still employed or are on a leave of absence with pay, and nothing has been done. TBI has done an investigation, and the district attorney refuses to prosecute or move forward with those things. So that’s the other issue. We need to make sure that the people who wear that badge are treating our citizens well, and are there to protect and serve, and not to abuse their authority.”

The police controversy in nearby Collegedale has also been an impetus to create and empower a police oversight committee. She said, “It gives me the sense of urgency, the feeling of 'We must get this done,' and that we must educate our constituents so that they know what it means when they vote on this referendum. There’s a sense of urgency when it comes to going to the state, and seeing what laws need to be changed and showing people why this oversight board needs more teeth in it.”

She noted the board has and will face resistance from some constituents. She called for promoting the board on a local level, but also on higher levels of government.

“It’s a conservative state. They say they’re progressive and they want to move forward on things. But things that are going to help people and be beneficial and build a relationship between people and the police, they’re not really ready to move forward in that direction. It’s clearly a problem, right? We need to build relationships, not only on the local level with our elected officials, but we also need to champion that cause at the state. And we should champion that same cause when we meet with our senators and Congresspeople and beyond, because that’s how we effectively create change.”

She denied the oversight board will limit officers’ ability to do their job effectively. She said if there are any “bad apples” affected, then the oversight board would hopefully begin the process of permanently removing them from the police force.

Councilwoman Coonrod said, “I don’t think it would limit them from doing their job because they’re not afraid of doing it now. If they’re doing everything correctly, then they wouldn’t be investigated or at fault for something. So if we have those bad apples, then they need to be out of the force and no longer working for our police department. They need to lose all credentials, and not be able to wear a badge in another city or another state. If you’re going to abuse your authority or abuse your position or wrongfully violate policies, then we don’t need those bad apples on the force.”

Despite coming up with the idea of the oversight board, Ms. Coonrod was resolute in her stance that she is not anti-police.

“A lot of people say that 'Oh, she’s anti-police.' But I’m far from anti-police. I believe in treating people fairly, and it wouldn’t matter if it was a regular citizen, police officer, EMT, fire department, or whoever. It’s about respect and respecting boundaries.”

Although not directly related to the police oversight board, Ms. Coonrod spoke of the importance of relationships between citizens and the police. And, more specifically, how stronger relationships between police and the black community in Chattanooga can help solve problems in the Scenic City.

“In our homes, we’re told that the police are bad. But if we get more people out of that mindset, and get them to serve as police officers, both male and female, then that’s how you disrupt that system. When you’ve got people who look like you working in your neighborhoods, you build that relationship with the community,” she said.

 

 


Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Taylor Charged With Robbing Same South Pittsburg Bank Twice

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN 4924 BAL HARBOR CIRCLE HARRISON, 37416 Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION ... (click for more)

Federal authorities have charged a man with robbing the same South Pittsburg bank on two occasions. A criminal information says Bradley Shawn Taylor robbed the First Jackson Bank at 201 Battlecreek ... (click for more)

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ADAIR, SHAMEIKA SHANNETTE 6752 HARBOR CIR CHATTANOOGA, 37416 Age at Arrest: 28 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga THEFT OF PROPERTY ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: ANDERSON, CHRISTOPHER ALLEN 4924 BAL HARBOR CIRCLE HARRISON, 37416 Age at Arrest: 30 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF CONDITIONS OF RELEASE --- BALTIMORE, KENYON LAMAR HOMELESS 1000 E 14TH ST AREA CHATTANOOGA, 37404 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County FORGERY ... (click for more)

Taylor Charged With Robbing Same South Pittsburg Bank Twice

Federal authorities have charged a man with robbing the same South Pittsburg bank on two occasions. A criminal information says Bradley Shawn Taylor robbed the First Jackson Bank at 201 Battlecreek Road on Dec. 19, 2016. It says he robbed the bank again on Aug. 15, 2017. The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office arrested Bradley Shawn Taylor, who was then 35, at his home in ... (click for more)

Opinion

Ignored By The Water Company

How much time do you spend at Tennessee American Water's website? It is worthless for online reporting problems. Replies? Never happen. Communication? They appear to consciously avoid honest communication with concerned citizens. This "Opinion Page" is an avenue of last resort to report a problem, because no one is trying to listen at Tennessee American Water. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Start With Truth

By all accounts the public schools in Chattanooga and Hamilton County are far from what the average taxpayer would want them to be. Our schools are our number one priorities, this easily reflected by the fact they now receive over 60 percent of the total county budget -- the most money ever allocated to public education in history -- and the unbridled desire of our booming area ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Records Another Shutout At Citadel

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team earned a record-tying eighth shutout with a 2-0 win over The Citadel Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference action at the Washington Light Infantry Field. The Mocs improve to 8-4-3 on the year and 3-2-1 in league action. The Citadel falls to 5-6-2 overall and 1-4 against the conference. The Mocs matched a school record eight shutouts set ... (click for more)

Covenant Scores Big USA South Win Over Maryville On Riggs PK

Jesse Riggs' penalty kick in the 77th minute and a stout defensive effort from the Covenant men's soccer team lifted the Scots to a pivotal, 1-0, victory over Maryville in USA South action on Saturday night at Scotland Yard. Covenant (11-2-1, 8-0 USA South) gains sole possession of first place in the USA South West Division with the win. The Scots finish the regular season ... (click for more)