The Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF), NAACP, and community leaders gathered at Lee Chapel African American Episcopal Church recently to call upon Mayor David Briley and the Metro Council to form a Community Oversight Board (COB).
“We are deeply concerned with all violence in our community and especially concerned with state sponsored violence,” said Rev. Keith Caldwell.
Previous efforts to form a COB fell short as the ordinance sponsored by District 5 Councilman Scott Davis, and Councilwoman-at-Large Sharon Hurt failed to pass.
“Even with the best of police forces, you will have some kind of issue,” said Davis at the time. “Though a large amount of people who will benefit are African Americans, an oversight board is one way to ensure civil rights of all people in Nashville are protected. The Community Oversight Board needs to happen.”
With the Community Oversight Now coalition pushing for legislation to create a COB for years, renewed efforts have been sparked by the fatal shooting of Daniel Hambrick on July 26 at the hands of Metro Police Officer Andrew Delke.
“The Tennessee state conference of the NAACP, along with all of our area units and coalition partners call for police accountability and an unbiased investigation into the killing of Mr. Daniel Hambrick,” said NAACP State President Dr. Gloria Sweetlove.
According to Sweetlove, the city promised improvements in policing following the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons. Also, the release of the ‘Driving While Black’ report has not been kept.
“There are still no body cameras for all the city police officers, no justice for Jocques, no sign support for a COB by the former mayor and the council, and still not police accountability,” Sweetlove said.
According to Rev. David Tucker: “Right now if you have a complaint against the police, the only place to go is the police. So we feel there needs to be an outside independent organization to bring integrity to the system.”
The Mayor’s Office released the following statement after the press conference:
“A loss of life under these circumstances is devastating for all concerned. At this tragic moment, I hope everyone will wait for the facts and not rush to judgment. I have spoken with Chief Anderson, and he and I both expect the TBI to do a full investigation of the shooting before turning over its findings to District Attorney General Funk’s office.
“The city is in the process of buying body and dash cameras for our police force. We’re moving ahead diligently with the RFP process and will put cameras into use as quickly as possible.
“The community grassroots effort to create civilian oversight deserves an opportunity to see if it can get on the ballot. But regardless of what happens there, we ultimately will make sure there’s some sort of community oversight of police in Nashville.”
Rev. James Turner, IMF president, said: “There is a culture in our police department we have to address, and I believe it begins at the top. There needs to be a discussion around the policing of our African American community. We believe that the culture needs to change and the leadership needs to change.”
On Wednesday, Community Oversight Now submitted their petition to place a proposed amendment to the charter to establish a community oversight board on the November 6 ballot.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting of Hambrick and is consulting with Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk.
Hambrick’s death has spurred vigils and a protest.
The funeral for Hambrick will take place at 12 pm on August 4, at First Baptist Church of South Inglewood, 1515 Ann St. in Nashville. Viewing of the body will take place at S&G Funeral Home from 1-6 pm on August 3, with a night vigil to immediately follow at 17th and Jo Johnston, where Hambrick was killed.
The NAACP has set up a go-fund-me page to help the family with expenses at www.gofund