Nashville’s new Community Oversight Board has been in place for six months and has already launched three investigations. At its monthly meeting Wednesday night, the 11-member board took the next step toward finalizing its agreement with police and approved a draft of the contract.
For weeks, the board’s Bylaws and Rules Committee has been drafting a memorandum of understanding, or MOU. It’s a deal between the COB and the Metro Nashville Police Department that determines just how much power the group will have to investigate allegations of police misconduct.
The first draft of the seven-page memorandum lays out the specifics of the board’s potential power. It envisions a close relationship with police, which would allow the groups to investigate in tandem.
If approved, the board would have broad access to records and crime scene evidence. Members would also be able to advise the department to change its policies, and the agreement would require employees to participate in COB investigations.
The MOU still has several hurdles to pass before the oversight board can operate in full force. Next month, community groups will have a chance to provide feedback on the proposed agreement at an open meeting. Then, the board will take the document to the police department. It’s unclear how long negotiations could take.
In the meantime, the board is operating in limited capacity. The board's executive director, Bill Weeden, is taking tips from community members about alleged police misconduct.
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member.