Gov. Lee launches Tenn. police reform task force, nearly 90 percent of agencies on board

The task force will review current policies in place in the state such as the use of force policies.
Gov. Bill Lee addresses media on police reform
Gov. Bill Lee addresses media on police reform(WVLT News)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Governor Bill Lee announced his launching of a Tennessee Law Enforcement Reform Task Force in response to President Trump’s guidelines on ‘safe policing for safe communities’ during Thursday’s press conference.

Lee said the task force is the first step of a promise he made to Tennesseans 60 days ago to improve police and community interactions in the state.

According to Lee, the purpose of the task force is to “ensure every Tennessean’s rights to dignity and humanity is being protected and preserved” especially when dealing with law enforcement. He said he wants every person to have the same experience when interacting with police, “so that we don’t have circumstances and incidents like we’ve seen across the country."

The task force will review current policies in place in the state such as the ‘use of force’ and ‘duty to intervene’ policies.

Several members of law enforcement from different agencies spoke during the press conference. City of Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner was proud to report nearly 90 percent of Tennessee law enforcement agencies were on board with the task force.

When asked how the task force plans to handle implicit bias among law enforcement, Lee said the task force will be training officers on cross-cultural interactions.

“I think these approaches are the way we will protect the dignity, rights and lives of every Tennessean, regardless of who they are,” said Lee.

Lee also announced there would be funds set aside to provide scholarships for 90 cadets in the police academy so “tight community budgets” would not “have hindrance for their ability to have well equipped law enforcement” all across the state of Tennessee. The money for the scholarships will come from the state’s COVID-19 (CARES) relieve funds.

Lee added that defunding law enforcement was “not an option” for Tennessee.

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