Gov. Bill Lee has announced recommendations from the state’s law enforcement reform partnership designed to strengthen policing policies, improve information sharing about disciplinary actions and boost officer training, his office said in a press release on Thursday.
In addition to these policies, the office said $300,000 in CARES Act funding will be used for 90 additional cadet scholarships for the 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,” Lee said. “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.”
Lee announced the law enforcement reform partnership on July 2 and charged the group with providing recommendations by early September. Partnership members include representatives from the 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.
In an effort to encourage reevaluation of use of force and duty to intervene policies, the partnership produced sample policies consistent with national standards and distributed them to all local agency heads. 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.
The governor’s office said almost 90% of Tennessee law enforcement agencies have reviewed their policies and completed the online checklist.
To improve information sharing, the Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission will increase access to the National Decertification Index, a national registry that tracks officers who have lost licenses or certificates due to misconduct, for all law enforcement agencies in Tennessee.
“Utilizing the National Decertification Index will improve information sharing between our law enforcement agencies, strengthen accountability and ensure bad actors are handled appropriately,” said Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long in the release.
According to the release, Tennessee’s notice of separation form will be expanded to require a more 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.
The Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy will also now require enhanced curriculum and annual in-service training including specific training topics for law enforcement officials across the state.
“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,” said Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Hodgen Mainda in the release.
Training enhancements include increasing the minimum training hours from 400 to 488 hours and updating curriculums to require a minimum of 16 course hours for relevant policing concepts, such as proper use of force and emphasizing positive community and officer interactions.