KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The NAACP of Tennessee is voicing its concerns about a new bill that aims to abolish the community police oversight and civilian review boards in Memphis and in Nashville.

The Tennessee State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a statement calling for state lawmakers, the governor and police chiefs to oppose a bill that will abolish the community police oversight/civilian review boards in Memphis and Nashville.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Elaine Davis (R-Knoxville) and Senator Mark Pody (R-TN) and proposes “to create police advisory and review committees to ensure timely, fair and objective review of citizen complaints and to make recommendations concerning such complaints.”

According to the NAACP, this bill has been filed during the week of the video release of Tyre Nichols, who died after Memphis Police officers were seen on video beating and tasing him on Jan. 7. The police officers who were involved were fired and charged.

“What we witnessed in Memphis once again is just a culture of that type of behavior and this attitude of bullying and this kind of idea of being supreme because I have on a uniform and so that gives me a right to treat you in such a way,” said Reverend Sam Brown, the NAACP Knoxville Branch President.

The NAACP believes that by passing the bill, the two lawmakers are “disregarding Memphis residents and Tennessee families traumatized by Nichols’ killings.”

Brown adds, “thank god that police chief took it upon herself to go a step further and to ask those questions and to see that ‘hey this is not behavior that we sanction in our department.”

However, he worries that if community oversight and police advisories didn’t exist, law enforcement would not be held accountable for their actions.

“My question is how many instances of Tyre Nichols do we not know about simply because there was not a police chief that took it upon themselves to hold their colleagues accountable.”

The organization provided a list of reasons they believe the bill will “worsen police-community tensions”:

Prevents oversight/civilian review board investigations of use-of-force incidences prior to July 2023, including an investigation of the officers who killed Tyre Nichols.
Threatens ongoing investigations of dozens of excessive force cases in Memphis and Nashville, meaning that officers with known records of bad behavior will continue to work without reprimand.
Possibly invalidates existing Memoranda of Understanding and formal policy agreements between oversight boards and police departments.
Endangers the employment status of current oversight/review board stuff.
Gives Mayors too much power in handpicking candidates to oversight/review board members without input from voters, impacted constituents and civil rights group.

“This is a slap in the face to Tennesseans concerned about police accountability in the wake of the killing of Tyre Nichols,” NAACP said in its statement.

Brown said, “to safeguard our communities from that, really what it boils down to is corruption, I think it’s important for us to have a sense of oversight from the community that can really check and look into the actions of our law enforcement officers.”

The bill was filed for introduction in both the House, on Jan. 30 and Senate, on Jan. 25.