state capitol

Protesters at the state Capitol in 2020

The Tennessee House of Representatives has followed the state Senate’s lead and overwhelmingly passed a series of changes to Tennessee’s police use-of-force policies.

The changes, which were crafted in partnership with law enforcement representatives, would ban chokeholds unless an officer believes deadly force is authorized, require the teaching of chokeholds during police training, require law enforcement agencies to develop de-escalation policies, require officers to intervene when witnessing excessive force by other officers, prohibit firing weapons at moving vehicles unless an officer believes deadly force is authorized and prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants.

“Tonight’s vote was the culmination of a year of conversations with stakeholders across the state," House sponsor Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) said. "I’m proud that an overwhelming majority of the House and Senate voted with me to establish Tennessee as a national leader in modern law enforcement. Once again, Tennessee leads on the top issues facing our nation.”

There was no debate on the bill before it passed in the House on Monday night. It passed in the Senate, also with zero "no" votes, in April. Several Democrats in the House and Senate joined Republicans in sponsoring the legislation.

 

Despite the bipartisanship, some activists have not been swayed by the proposed reforms.

“The issue with the bill is that these measures do not prevent the deaths of Black folks by police officers,” Audrey Tesi of Black Lives Matter Nashville told the Post last month. “It doesn’t get to the root of the overarching problem. A comprehensive solution would involve the redistribution of funding and resources from police departments to low-income communities of color. These funds and resources could be used to invest in education, health care, mental health co-ops, etc. in these communities.”

Earlier in the day, a state House committee approved another piece of legislation inspired by a summer of racial justice protests. This one, though, would make it a felony to block traffic, as some demonstrators have, and give civil immunity to drivers who hit protesters unintentionally with their cars. 

(Nashville Post

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