Referendum Seeks To Set Up "Community Control Board" With Much-Stronger Powers Than New Police Advisory Board

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A group is seeking to get a question on the March 3 city ballot that would set up a Chattanooga Community Control Board with much stronger powers than the new Police Advisory Board.

The Election Commission discussed the 27-page document on Wednesday and said the group needs to revise some of its language, but said it is close to getting it acceptable to state election officials.

When approved by the election panel, the group would need to get enough names on a petition equal to 25 percent of votes cast in the last mayor election. That would require 4,719 names.

Citizens would then vote yes or no on the proposal.

The control board would have nine members, including six designated from the following groups: Cempa Community Cares, Chattanooga Racial Equity Collective, the Concerned Citizens for Justice, Tennessee United, the Unity Group of Chattanooga and 10,000 Fearless of Chattanooga.

The proposal says the mayor "shall accept nominations from each of the six organizations. . . All board member nominations shall be approved by the Chattanooga City Council."

Those six at-large members would then get together and choose the remaining three members.

It says, "All board nominations shall be accepted and approved by the mayor and Chattanooga City Council."

The nine members would make the same salary as City Council members.

The office would have an annual budget of up to $1 million.

The board would have the power "to receive, investigate, hear, make findings and recommend action upon complaints by members of the public against uniformed and sworn personnel of the CPD that allege misconduct. . ."

The board could issue subpoenas while investigating the complaints, could require the police to turn over some its files, and could go out to the scene where alleged police misconduct occurred. It could also set up a mediation program to resolve issues relating to citizen allegations.

The proposal says, "The Board shall provide its findings of fact to the Chief of Police and, absent clear error, the Chief of Police shall accept those findings of fact. The Board shall also make disciplinary recommendations and the Chief of Police shall make all disciplinary decisions based on the Board's findings of fact, absent clear error, and consistent with the matrix and guidelines." 

Police officers would be summoned before the board for "interviews."

Police are to provide to the board the number of stops made by police officers during the previous quarter broken down on such data as the race, ethnicity, gender or age of the person stopped, and give an explanation of the reason for the stop. Additional detailed information about the stops are required.

The board also wants to know quarterly the number of use of force incidents by the CPD and detailed information about those.

It says if the chief of police does not go along with a discipline recommendation from the board that he may be summoned before the panel to explain why.



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