Chattanooga's Police Advisory Committee members chosen
UPDATE (Tuesday evening):
Chattanooga city leaders put names to paper Tuesday night after community members were appointed for the Police Advisory Committee.
This board was created for the people of Chattanooga to feel heard and to give the community a chance to have a second opinion in matters they believe in.
On Tuesday night, some of those people were given the chance to oversee our law enforcement.
“Once I retired, I said, 'What can I do in my community?'” says Sylvester Harris.
Harris is a Kirkman High School and Chattanooga State College graduate, who said he wants to bring fairness to the committee, and instead of complaining about it, he wanted to do something about it.
“It's not a black thing, it’s not a white thing. It's an issue we need to address in this city because some of the stuff that I've saw happen needs to be addressed,” said Harris.
Harris was appointed by Councilman Byrd, and is just one of five appointees accepted at Tuesday night’s meeting. Councilman Gilbert appointed Christy Rasheed, Councilwoman Coonrod appointed Jacqueline Thomas and Councilman Ledford appointed Michael Watkins.
“Mr. Watkins is a Navy veteran, a retired executive from GE. He has been trained as a counselor, conflict resolution, financial and organizational management and planning. I think he will make a great value and bring great talent to the committee,” said Councilman Ledford.
Appointed by Councilwoman Berz was Richard Gordon. That leaves four more spots open for council to appoint.
This committee is a result of recent police brutality issues involving CPD.
“What I am scrutinizing is the fact that we continue to put the police above the fire department, the police above our children, the police above our public workers, the police above our homeless and that is a problem when this... when they are corrupt,” said one District 8 resident.
As a newly appointed member of the Police Advisory Committee, Sylvester Harris said it's situations like that he hopes to bring to light.
“Even when a officer let another officer do things is not correct. He needs to be accounted for too cause we all need to be accounted for our actions,” said Harris.
Another item on Tuesday’s agenda included a public hearing on the proposed budget. Councilwoman Berz said this fulfilled the councils promise of getting community input on the matter.
The city made that budget open to the public and you can find it here.
We are getting a better idea of who will be reviewing complaints against the Chattanooga Police Department.
On Tuesday, Chattanooga City Council will vote on five of the nine people who are nominated for the new police advisory review committee. On Tuesday, we got to know them better.
Richard Gordon, a judge for 25 years, didn't even know his name was going to be voted on for part of the committee, until we told him over the phone today.
Richard Gordon, Christy Rasheed, Jacqueline Thomas, and Michael Watkins were among those nominated by their council members.
Councilman Anthony Byrd feels confident in his fellow council members' nominations.
The public outcry for a board like this came in part after the release of a video of Chattanooga Police hitting and punching a handcuffed man during an arrest.
When the board is up and running, it will review cases like this, and make recommendations to the police chief.
It's a change Byrd hopes will impact Chattanooga positively.
"At the end of the day we just want to find balance and get the right people in the right positions, because right now we have a very very very difficult divide in our community where people don't trust the police," he says.
Byrd says he had a hard time finding people interested to serve at first.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8 are still looking for people to nominate, but if the four up for a vote are given the thumbs up tonight, the hope is to get the group up and running in three months.
The city council vote is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
Depend on us to update you as we learn more.