Deal would limit Tennessee police oversight panel subpoenas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers have struck a deal that would limit community oversight boards that investigate police misconduct but maintain limited subpoena power.

A House-Senate panel voted Monday for legislation that would allow subpoenas only if an oversight board receives its city council’s approval. The bill still requires full House and Senate votes.

The House passed a version that would eliminate subpoena power from the oversight boards but later added the city council approval to a negotiated version. The Senate approved one to allow subpoenas only if a board-hired special investigator, the police chief or head of police internal affairs received a judge’s approval.

After the panel initially failed to pass either Monday, Republican Sen. Mike Bell switched to support the negotiated House version.

Nashville voters approved a new oversight board in November. Knoxville’s board hasn’t used subpoena power. Memphis’ board lacks subpoena power.

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