Nashville's new Community Oversight Board is calling for an emergency meeting with the Metro mayor and chief of police next week. The group met Wednesday night to discuss concerns about lack of cooperation from police thus far.
The board hopes the mayor's presence will help the two parties find a way to move forward.
The Community Oversight Board hasn't yet worked out a formal memorandum of understanding with the Metro Nashville Police Department. In the meantime, Chief Steve Anderson has written eight pages of rules in what he's called the "Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Declaration of Cooperative Interaction with the Nashville Oversight Board." They even include how board members should act during their Citizens Police Academy training sessions.
At Wednesday's meeting, board member Phyllis Hildreth said she's frustrated that the chief is telling them how to behave without holding up his end of the bargain.
"It never would have occurred to me that a document that purports to profess cooperation will then seek to school us about how we are to comport ourselves when we have heard nothing but testimony for the entirety of this meeting of lack of cooperation and deportment," she said.
Board members learned at a meeting last month that the police department has refused to comply with multiple public records requests from the COB, which has slowed down investigations. Without a deal between the board and the police, the group's investigators have to submit all requests through the same channels as ordinary citizens. And those channels can take weeks, months or even years to produce documents, depending on the circumstances.
The board hopes to start negotiating an agreement with the police department in the next few weeks. For now, they're asking the mayor, the district attorney – and the citizens who voted to create the board last November – for support.
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.