• Proposal would remove subpoena powers from Tennessee police oversight boards

    By: Kirstin Garriss

    Updated:

    Despite opposition from the Shelby County delegation, the Republican-controlled House in Nashville approved legislation that removes subpoena powers from police oversight boards.

    Republican Rep. Michael Curcio, who sponsored the bill, said his legislation wouldn't affect the Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) in Memphis. 

    “Memphis already fits within the guidelines of that bill,” said Curcio.

    But it's unclear if a new amendment on the Senate version of this bill would affect CLERB. 


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    The amendment would allow oversight boards to hire an independent investigator or head of a police internal affairs division to ask a judge to issue a subpoena to obtain information or compel someone to testify.

    While he can't speak for the Senate, Curcio said the amendment is too broad.

    “The way the amendment is drafted right now it would grant an oversight board broader subpoena power than what Knoxville currently has,” said Curcio. “I think there are some drafting issues that need to be worked out before it’s a workable option.”

    President of the Memphis Police Association said their organization is following the bill's progress.  

    Regardless of which version becomes law, Rev. Ralph White, vice chairman for CLERB, believes the state has inserted itself too much into this process.

    “The reason for these things being set up is for the citizens to have a board that spoke for the citizens not the state, for the state, regulated by the state,” said White. 

    The state Senate will discuss this proposed legislation on Monday.

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