Nominations to serve on Nashville’s new closely watched police oversight board are due in two weeks. And while only a handful of people have come forward so far, numerous community groups plan to submit more names soon, and across a wide spectrum.
Several organizations that fought to create the board say they’re preparing nominees, and if there end up being dozens of names, the Metro Council could hold special meetings to vet them before voting in an 11-person panel before the end of January.
But even opponents of this oversight panel, like the Fraternal Order of Police, are considering who could represent their views. President James Smallwood acknowledged that the board doesn’t allow current law enforcement to serve — which was one of the FOP’s sharpest criticisms while campaigning against passage — but he suggested other ideas are percolating.
“Former law enforcement, people that understand the law — so those would be attorneys — people that are or have been exposed to the way that officers are trained,” Smallwood said.
There’s also interest from groups that have not been directly involved in forming the board. The nonprofit You Have The Power, which aids victims of crime, didn’t take a side before the election. But executive director Cathy Gurley said her team has high interest.
“We feel we have a very unique voice to bring, in that we are obviously victim-oriented,” she said.
Gurley called it “surprising” that members of law enforcement are barred from the board, and noted her organization’s frequent partnerships with police.
“I do believe everyone needs to be represented about where we are,” she said.
In addition to community groups, some individuals have already put their names in — ranging from a local IT worker, to a lawyer, to a former owner of an independent bookstore in East Nashville.
“If there are a lot of names, then we will figure out how to winnow that down,” said Theeda Murphy with Community Oversight Now, which pushed for the board’s creation. “I predict you’re see a big flurry as the deadline approaches.”