Legislators pass police anti-racial profiling bill - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Legislators pass police anti-racial profiling bill

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -  Legislation that would require all of Tennessee's law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies banning racial profiling passed the Senate this week.

"If there is a need for a bill to stop something, it means there's already a systemic problem," said Rev. Brian Merritt.

Merritt helps run Mercy Junction, a Chattanooga ministry that spends a lot time fighting racism.  

He said the new anti-racial profiling bill passed this week is a step in the right direction.

"Just having this is amazing to start with, but it's only really a beginning to stuff like community oversight," Merritt said.

"The only way a racial profiling ban in the state is going to work is if there are effective mechanisms for enforcement and accountability," said Jared Story, Concerned Citizens for Justice. "From what we see, this legislation doesn't provide for that."

Story been a part of protests locally and in Ferguson, and is not convinced this new legislation is going to work.

"I think it's just a political PR thing that's happening. There are a lot of reforms that have been put on the table after Ferguson stuff, and the majority of them have very little teeth," said Story.

Most police departments in the state already have policies in place. Chattanooga Police Department's policy on bias-based profiling has been in place since 2006. It essentially says that singling out people is against employee conduct.

"Every case is unique, but I would have very little tolerance and take it very seriously -- up to and including termination," said Chief Fred Fletcher.

CPD's policy extends further than the new law, covering race, sex, national origin and sexual orientation.

"We're very proud that we do not allow, support or enable racial profiling for any of those protected classes," Fletcher said.

In 2013, there were no CPD internal affairs investigations related to bias-based profiling or harassment. Fletcher did not recall any incidents or complaints last year, but an official report is still pending.
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