MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are new questions over who will make sure police are held accountable after efforts in the Tennessee General Assembly to get rid of community-based review boards, such as CLERB in Memphis.
At a time when police reform and accountability are top of mind for many communities such as Memphis, a bill in the state legislature would dissolve community oversight review boards such as CLERB.
WREG talked with city leaders and CLERB members about its future and whether it ever had any real power.
“I’m disappointed this has taken place, because this largely affects Memphis and Nashville,” Memphis City Councilman Martavious Jones said.
The bill, introduced by Republican lawmakers Sen. Mark Pody and Rep. Elaine Davis, would get rid of existing boards in Memphis and Nashville within 90 days, and would replace them with a seven-member police advisory and review committees appointed by a mayor instead of community groups.
The Republican sponsors of the bill say the legislation would create statewide standards for police review committees.
City Council Chairman Martavius Jones says CLERB is needed.
“These are concerned citizens that volunteered their time to be a part of CLERB and the state is, in my opinion, just recklessly taking this away,” Jones said.
One of the CLERB board member is Stevie Moore. He’s also the founder of Freedom from Unnecessary Negatives.
“I love police officers and I love law enforcement, but like anything else, we got some rogue officers who are going to do wrong, and if no one is standing up watching them to put them back in check, then what are we doing?” Moore said.
But some board members speculate whether CLERB had any real power in Memphis to do its job.
“I can’t see what power CLERB has,” Moore said. “I’ve been on the board for about a year now and all we do is hear complaints, but what do we solve?”
WREG recently asked Mayor Jim Strickland about the role of CLERB and whether the city council needed to give it more authority.
“Exercise the authority that you have now and then see how that works. I think the ordinance as it is now is sufficient,” Strickland said.
For now, questions remain about the future of CLERB and whether police should police themselves when it comes to their conduct within the community.
“I just think that there’s more room for what would be favoritism shown to officers who may be involved in a situation that involves inappropriate conduct with the public,” Jones said.