Chattanooga City Council votes to create citizen-led Police Advisory and Review Committee
The Chattanooga City Council has voted to create a citizen-led Police Advisory and Review Committee, which will keep a close eye on all internal affairs investigations.
Scenes showing a Chattanooga Police officer hitting a man with a stun gun, as he walks away, are fresh on many people's minds.
CPD ruled the officer used force outside department's guidelines.
This prompted more calls for more police oversight in Chattanooga, but it isn't the first time.
"It's not a new idea at all," said Dr. Carol Berz, a Chattanooga City Councilwoman.
Dr. Berz says she remembers some of the first calls for a police advisory committee, one starting with Chattanooga activist Maxine Cousin in the 1980's.
"I remember Maxine well, terrific person, very bright lady. And some bad things happened to her family, to her father, and she should have been concerned," said Dr. Berz.
Driven by her father's unsolved death inside Chattanooga's city prison, Cousin helped found Concerned Citizens for Justice (CCJ).
Back then, Cousin along with Chattanooga activists joined with the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against the City of Chattanooga.
They argued local government’s setup, at the time, under-represented Chattanooga's Black population.
They won that case, and now Chattanooga’s Council members are selected by district, not at large.
CCJ is still active today.
Their mission - to fight racism and police brutality.
"The primary issues with the existing board are that it doesn't actually have much real power it is not democratic at all and it's in no way independent," said Mark Gilliland, an organizer with Concerned Citizens for Justice.
Last week, CCJ argued the council's proposed Police Advisory and Review Committee doesn't have enough teeth.
"CCJ come sit on the board. If there's a person in CCJ, especially in my district, that wants to sit on the board, come sit on the board and be able to articulate to me what's wrong with it form the inside," said Anthony Byrd, a Chattanooga City Councilman.
Now that Chattanooga will officially have Police Advisory Board, Councilman Byrd says it's time to fill the nine seats that will be the new Police Advisory and Review Committee.
The committee can ask the police chief to investigate cases further.
We learned tonight from the Chattanooga City Attorney that it will not have the power to subpoena witnesses.
Council members say they're putting a list of candidates to sit on the Police Advisory and Review Committee.
Chairman Erskine Oglesby, Jr. says the council will also set term limits for each committee member.