Now that Nashville has voted in favor of more police oversight, city officials are required to quickly create an 11-member citizen board and to hire a full-time staff of nine.
To carry out the will of voters — on the timeline mandated by Amendment 1 — Metro will need to step outside of its normal routines and search for funding.
The ballot measure, which Nashville voters approved by nearly 18 percentage points, explicitly calls for a community oversight board to be formed by Jan. 31, and for its annual budget to be written by March 29.
“There’s going to be a little bit of a time crunch there,” said Marcus Floyd, public safety advisor to Mayor David Briley. “We have to get moving.”
Many tasks fall to the Metro Council, which is scheduled to meet just five times before the deadline, with officials also working around the holidays. The council must receive board nominations, vet them and vote. There’s no limit to how many people could be nominated by the community, but the council will choose seven. In addition, the council itself will nominate and vote on two members, as well as review two appointments from the mayor.
At the same time, the council will work to define some terms that were left unclear in the amendment, such as what it means for four board nominees to come from “economically distressed” areas, and what it means for “community organizations” to be able to offer nominees.
Meanwhile, Metro Human Resources must create and post job descriptions for the professional support staffers, and officials said there is some question about whether the community oversight board will directly choose only the professional executive director, or also the eight others.
“You know, it’s incumbent upon us to take this charter amendment and make it work,” Floyd said. “From the mayor’s perspective, having a community oversight board as soon as possible will be the best way to serve the city.”
Funding is another matter. Metro is already in the middle of its budget year, and it’s a tight time for finances, with departments being asked to find savings. The city could get some dollars by leaving open other vacant positions, or by dipping into reserves.
Despite the uncertainties, officials say they’ll respond promptly. And legally, they may not have much choice.