Nashville’s new Community Oversight Board unanimously approved a proposed contract with Metro Police at a meeting Wednesday evening.
The vote comes after months of careful drafting of a document that gives the group broad-reaching powers – from crime scene access to policy recommendations.
Now, negotiations begin with Chief of Police Steve Anderson.
Anderson has declined to provide input on earlier drafts or attend any public board meetings up to this point. But in an emailed response to an invitation to yesterday's meeting, Anderson said he planned to continue to meet regularly with board members and staff "as we move forward."
Board member Brenda Ross expressed concern that all discussions so far between the chief and oversight board staff have been held in private. She wants Anderson and newly elected Mayor John Cooper to engage with the public at oversight board meetings. Both declined invitations to speak at last night's vote.
Cooper says he plans to meet privately with representatives from the board next week.
"I think that the community needs to be involved and be informed," Ross said. "We still need the mayor and the chief here at a meeting. We're talking about transparency. We're talking about partnering and working together. And the community's our backbone."
Local activist Davie Tucker urged the board to hold its ground during negotiations.
“You are in a job where you’re not going to find a bunch of friends. But for you to do the job right for us, that’s the consequence," he said. "We need you to not maintain the status quo and to not get discouraged.”
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.