Governor Bill Lee on Thursday, Sept. 10 announced recommendations from the State’s Law Enforcement Reform Partnership to strengthen policing policies, improve information sharing around disciplinary actions, and increase officer training.
In addition to enhanced policies, a total of $300,000 in CARES Act funding will be utilized for 90 additional cadet scholarships for Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy.
“Through this partnership, our state has created one of the most comprehensive and collaborative law enforcement advancements in recent Tennessee history while also working to recruit top-tier talent to our force,” said Gov. Lee. “I am confident the outcomes of this partnership will help ensure our law enforcement officials are effectively protecting communities across the state while serving every Tennessean with dignity and respect.”
Gov. Lee announced the Law Enforcement Reform Partnership on July 2, 2020 and charged them with providing recommendations by early September. Partnership members represent a diverse group of individuals and organizations across all three Grand Divisions, and include members of Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, state legislators, and community leaders.
An advisory council will continue to work to ensure that Tennessee’s law enforcement agencies receive the best training and standards to respond to the evolving needs of officers and the communities they serve.
Updated Use of Force & Duty to Intervene Policies
The Partnership produced sample policies consistent with national standards and distributed them to all local agency heads via Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.
Additionally, a Use of Force policy checklist was created for agencies to review existing policies and to serve as a resource for agencies that may or may not have existing policies.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said, “This collaborative, transparent initiative ensures all agencies in Tennessee will have addressed the most critical aspects of the proper and lawful application of force and the importance of protective intervention to meet the expectations of the public we serve and are aligned with pending federal guidelines.”
Almost 90% of Tennessee law enforcement agencies have reviewed their policies and completed the online checklist attestation and Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association will continue to support agencies in reviewing their policies.
Improved Information Sharing
The Peace Officers Standards & Training (POST) Commission will increase accessibility to National Decertification Index (NDI) for all law enforcement agencies in Tennessee. NDI is a national registry that tracks officers who have lost licenses or certificates due to misconduct.
Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long said, “Utilizing the National Decertification Index will improve information sharing between our law enforcement agencies, strengthen accountability and ensure bad actors are handled appropriately.”
Tennessee’s Notice of Separation form will be expanded to require a more comprehensive and detailed explanation for reasons of departure including disciplinary actions and procedures. The form will require agency heads to formally attest to the form’s contents and will be in use by all Tennessee law enforcement agencies by October 1.
Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy, under the direction of Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, will now require enhanced curriculum and annual in-service training, including specific training topics for law enforcement officials across the state.
Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Hodgen Mainda said, “Tennessee is committed to having the best law enforcement officers in the nation. Through these expanded and enhanced training updates, Tennessee law enforcement officers will continue to receive the best training and standards as we respond to the evolving needs of law enforcement and our communities. I join Governor Lee in his continued commitment to developing best practices for law enforcement agencies and, above all, protecting human life.”
Enhancements include the following:
•Increasing the minimum training hours from 400 to 488 hours;
•Updating curriculums to require a minimum of 16 course hours designed for relevant policing concepts such as proper use of force and emphasizing positive community and officer interactions;
•Annual in-service training updates, including a total of 10 hours dedicated to the following topics: De-escalation Techniques and Duty to Intervene; Officer Wellness; Public Assembly and Community Interaction; and Designated Community Immersion.