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Tennessee lawmakers to introduce police reform measures

Tennessee lawmakers

A trio of Tennessee Democratic state lawmakers on Saturday vowed that police reform legislation would be forthcoming in the wake of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating at the hands of law enforcement.

State Rep. Joe Towns Jr., state House Democratic Caucus Chair John Ray Clemmons, and Rep. G. A. Hardaway, all of Memphis, held a news conference to announce the measures.

The three said it will address implicit bias training, limits on officers who face termination or discipline in one jurisdiction then transfer to another, ongoing mental evaluation, access to information on bad or deceitful officers for juries, more selective hiring, reevaluation of the need to make arrests in traffic stops, and reevaluation of the need for low-level traffic stops themselves.

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Towns said, “Never should a traffic stop cause you to put on a wooden overcoat, a coffin, at some point. Never should that happen. So we need to look at this very seriously.”

Hardaway said bills face an initial deadline of Tuesday. Towns said the lawmakers could have until early spring, otherwise, to develop and fine tune any proposals that emerge from Nichols’ death.

“It’s truly unfortunate that legislation is required,” Clemmons said, “— that we would need to legislate humanity in 2023.”

The Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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