Tag Archives: police

Niota Loses Insurance, Shuts Down Most Operations

NIOTA, Tenn. (AP) — The city of Niota is again without insurance and has shut down most city services.
According to The Daily Post-Athenian, only a skeleton staff remains in the city of about 800 residents.
Coverage through the Tennessee Municipal League lapsed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Athens Insurance owner Allen Carter said he received a letter from TML stating that the city did not meet the “long term results needed” for coverage to continue.
Carter had negotiated 60-day temporary coverage for the city through TML.
“Niota just needs to handle their affairs and their business correctly,” said Carter. “But right now, there’s just not that option.”
Carter said a lawsuit against the police department was a factor in TML’s decision, but noted the major issue was errors and omissions by public officials.
The insurance pool indicated in April that it wouldn’t renew the city’s insurance because Commissioners Richard Rutledge and Leesa Corum refused to participate in an investigation. A former city worker had accused both of harassment.
Rutledge said on Tuesday that the loss of insurance is not only because of the actions of him and Corum.
“If I felt in any way that it was my problem, I would step down,” Rutledge said.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported six employees were laid off Tuesday. The police department is closed, the volunteer fire department is shut down as are the library and the parks.
Mayor Lois Preece said the sewer department had been contracted out to avoid steep environmental fines from the state if it ceased working. Preece said garbage collection might go to a contractor as well.
Preece said the layoffs were not a surprise to those now without jobs.
“They knew it was coming,” she said. “I try to be very upfront with my employees.”

Police Chief Resigns After Bulldozer Questions Raised

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Allegedly, it was supposed to be used to clear a field for a police firing range. But documents and other evidence reviewed by the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations suggest that a bulldozer owned by the town of Monterey ended up on the former police chief’s property wasn’t going to be used for that purpose.
The investigators’ findings were part of a report that was publicly released today.
Monterey town officials obtained the bulldozer in early June of last year through the state’s military surplus program. In an agreement with the military surplus office, the police chief said that the bulldozer would only be used for law enforcement purposes and would not be leased to others, sold or otherwise disposed of by the town.
According to interviews with officials who were working for the town at the time, when the town received the bulldozer from military surplus, it was transported directly to the police chief’s property so a blade could be attached. The bulldozer was later moved back to town property after questions arose in a public meeting regarding its location.

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Memphis KKK Rally Held Peacefully

Members of the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in Memphis Saturday with the robed white supremacists and those opposed to their message separated by two blocks and several fences, reports the Commercial Appeal.
A few dozen anti-Klan protesters showed up late and tried to enter the rally without going through a security checkpoint, but police quickly quelled that.
Then, after talking to each other for just over an hour, the Klan members got back on their buses, the protesters filtered out of Downtown and police began packing up their enormous quantities of gear.
Although a few people were removed from the area to head off trouble, police made only one arrest, and the event went off peacefully.
That was all in sharp contrast to the last Klan rally in Memphis, in January 1998. A near-riot broke out during that rally, as police fired tear gas to disrupt the crowds. Police arrested 26 people that day, confiscating numerous guns and knives.
Responding to the lessons learned in 1998, the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, aided by other law-enforcement agencies, put on an overwhelming show of force Saturday.

Sponsor Drops Push to Strip Vanderbilt of Police Powers

A bill that would strip Vanderbilt University of its police powers is being dropped by its sponsor after an opinion from the Tennessee attorney general that it violates the U.S. constitution, according to Chas Sisk.
State Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, announced Monday that he will withdraw House Bill 1150. The measure would have taken away the Vanderbilt University Police Department’s ability to make arrests and enforce criminal laws unless the school abandons its “all-comers” nondiscrimination policy.
“I want to be sure to stand up for our students’ religious rights without overstepping our state authority,” Pody said in a prepared statement announcing he would not pursue the bill. “At this point, I am still not satisfied with the ‘all-comers policy’ at some private institutions. However, it needs to be addressed in a different way.”
Vanderbilt has battled with several student groups over a requirement that all organizations it recognizes abide by the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Religious groups say the policy tramples on their freedom of worship.

AG Issues Opinion on Vanderbilt Police Force Bill

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state’s attorney general has raised constitutional concerns over an effort to strip Vanderbilt University of its police force because of a nondiscrimination policy for student groups.
Attorney General Bob Cooper said in an opinion released Thursday that he sees no legal problems with requiring public colleges and universities to bar such policies. But he said it would be problematic to impose a possibly “unconstitutional condition” on a private institution.
“The General Assembly cannot assert … through an unrelated requirement that a private university abandon its right of free association,” Cooper said in the opinion.
Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon requested the opinion on his bill seeking to curtail police activity at the school if it doesn’t abandon its nondiscrimination policy among student groups.
Pody said he was disappointed by the legal opinion, but said he was still studying the analysis to see what his next steps should be.
“We could amend the bill, keep running it this way or finding a different course of action,” he said.
The Vanderbilt policy prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, military service, genetic information or sexual orientation. To be sanctioned by the university, student groups must open membership to all students and allow all members in good standing to seek leadership posts.
Christian groups have protested the policy, saying it forces them to allow nonbelievers and gay students to join. Vanderbilt officials say about 15 student groups have refused to comply with the policy and more than 480 groups have accepted it.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last year vetoed a more general bill seeking to ban college nondiscrimination policies because it sought to control the policies of private schools like Vanderbilt. The governor told reporters earlier in the week that he wasn’t more enamored about the renewed effort.
“I had problems with last year’s, and I’m not so certain that this isn’t just kind of a way to go around the corner and do the exact same thing,” Haslam said. “I also have questions whether any remedy that involves taking away a protective force is a good remedy.

Note: The full opinion is HERE.

Haslam Concerned About New ‘All Comers’ Bill

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s concerned over a new bill that echoes one he vetoed last year, reports WPLN. At issue is a campus anti-discrimination policy at Vanderbilt University. It means Christian groups can’t exclude gay members, drawing ire from some in the legislature.
Last year lawmakers threatened to pull state money from Vanderbilt, over its so-called All Comers policy. It was the first time Haslam vetoed a bill. This year it’s back, now targeting the school’s police powers. Haslam says he’s still concerned. And he wants to know if this version would hold up in court.
“Remember last year we said we didn’t think it was constitutional. The attorney general later came back and said it wasn’t. We have the same concern here, if this is targeting in that way, that wouldn’t fit the constitution. So we’re trying to get a better read on that.”
Haslam stopped short of threatening another veto. His fellow Republicans in the legislature could override one with a simple majority.


Note: A vote on the bill was postponed until next week to give the attorney general time to issue an opinion validity of the legislation.

Legislators to Vanderbilt: No ‘All-Comers’ Policy of No Police

Tennessee lawmakers on Tuesday revived an effort to pressure Vanderbilt University to drop its controversial nondiscrimination policy for student clubs, reports Chas Sisk — this time with an attack on the school’s police powers.
A pair of Middle Tennessee lawmakers said they will press ahead with a bill that would strip the Vanderbilt University Police Department of state recognition unless the school abandons its “all-comers” policy. That policy requires university-sponsored clubs to follow its rules against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
The bill would defy the wishes of Gov. Bill Haslam, who vetoed a measure last year that attacked the all-comers rule from a different angle. Backers said the new measure would stand a better chance of holding up in the courts and protect students from arbitrary use of police power to break up protests against the policy.
“Who will hold Nicholas Zeppos accountable?” said David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, referring to Vanderbilt’s chancellor.
But university officials said the measure flies in the face of efforts to tighten security in the wake of mass shootings. Without state recognition, Vanderbilt’s police effectively would become security guards, they said.
“I just find it unbelievable,” said August Washington, chief of the Vanderbilt University Police Department.
Senate Bill 1241/House Bill 1150, sponsored by state Rep. Mark Pody and state Sen. Mae Beavers, would take police powers away from any university that has adopted policies that “discriminate” against religious student organizations. Seventeen universities in Tennessee have their own police departments.
But it is geared toward Vanderbilt, which has implemented a rule requiring recognized student groups to follow school policies that bar discrimination.

Sheriffs, Police Chiefs Oppose Wine in Grocery Stores

More than 100 Tennessee sheriffs and police chiefs, including Knoxville’s Chief David Rausch, have declared their opposition to legislation that would allow the sale of wine in grocery stores.
Raush and several other law enforcement officers, part of a “Tennessee Law Enforcement for Strong Alcohol Laws” coalition, declared at a Legislative Plaza news conference that they see wine sales in groceries and supermarkets as weakening control over alcohol sales and causing an expansion of underage drinking.
Rausch said the concept is a “no brainer.” Knoxville police often run “sting” operations with state Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents on liquor stores, currently the only place wine is sold in Tennessee, and “rarely do we find them doing anything wrong” by selling to underage youths.
He said convenience stores, which now can sell only beer, are much more likely to have clerks caught in “sting” operations. Other officers amplified the point with Madison County Sheriff David Woolfork saying grocery stores often hire underage clerks willing to “wink and nod” for beer sales to underage friends and the practice would be amplified if wine is sold.

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More TN Views & News on Armed Guards in Schools

Congressmen Mostly Quiet, TN Cost Estimated
Nooga.com asked U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, as well as U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischman, whether they agreed with the NRA’s call for armed guards in all schools. All have taken campaign contributions from the NRA. (Full story HERE.)
Corker and DesJarlais didn’t respond .Fleischmann’s response didn’t address the question. Alexander did, sort of. Excerpts:
Asked to comment on LaPierre’s remarks Friday, Fleischmann, who boasted his NRA endorsement in television advertisements for his most recent campaign, voiced neither support nor disagreement.
“As a father, the events in Connecticut break my heart,” Fleischmann said in an emailed statement. “Children are our greatest treasure, and we need to ensure their safety, particularly in a school environment. No student should ever have to be afraid of going to school. Brenda and I send our prayers to the victims and their families.”
Fleischmann accepted $2,000 in NRA contributions this year.
…On Friday, Alexander indicated that congressional action would not be able to ensure student safety, as LaPierre suggested. The senator added his hope that school systems at the local level would be reviewing their current safety measures in the wake of the shooting.
“Washington can’t make school safe, but parents, communities and teachers can,” Alexander said in an emailed statement. “In light of the tragedy at Newtown, I would think every local school board would be thinking about whether they need to take additional steps to make their schools safe from guns and other acts of violence.”
Were the gun lobby’s call to gain traction, Congress would be tasked with providing funding for at least one armed guard in each of the nation’s 98,817 public schools–1,803 of which are in Tennessee.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the annual mean wage for a security guard at elementary and secondary schools is $31,420, making a rough estimate of the cost of equipping schools with armed guards more than $3 billion nationally–and more than $56 million statewide.


Haslam Thoughts on Video
TNReport has a video of Gov. Bill Haslam’s comments on the subject (previous post HERE), wherein he voices misgivings. “I know a whole lot of teachers who wouldn’t want to be armed,” he said – including his daughter, a 2nd grade teacher. But he thinks there should be a discussion of causes of “mass violence” in schools and elsewhere.
Cookeville Police Chief: Two Officers in Every School, Every Day
Each morning this week, Cookeville Police officers have driven through the parking lots at all city schools, hoping to help students, teachers, and parents feel a little bit safe, reports the Herald-Citizen..
And Police Chief Bob Terry is talking about a giant leap in school security here, an idea that he knows would cost taxpayers quite a chunk of money, but would be worth it if the horror that happened in Connecticut ever occurred here.
He would like to see two trained police officers assigned to work in each school in this county every day.
“The county has only one School Resource officer in each of the three high schools, but in today’s world, I would like to see much more security in all our schools,” Chief Terry said.
“I know it would cost us, and I am a taxpayer too. But just think about this: you can’t walk into courthouses carrying a gun, you can’t walk into a police station carrying a gun unless you are an officer, you can’t walk into many places without going through several kinds of security measures. But anyone can just walk into our schools.”

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19 Memphis Police Officers Arrested This Year (only 4 in Nashville)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A review of arrests of Memphis police officers shows that driving under the influence is the leading cause.
The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/ULS14a ) that 19 Memphis officers and two civilian employees have been arrested this year. The arrests, along with the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old by an off-duty officer, led Memphis Mayor A C Wharton to request an outside review of police department policies.
In comparison, Nashville’s police department has about 1,400 officers compared to Memphis’ 2,400 officers. So far this year, four Nashville police officers, two trainees and one civilian employee have been arrested so far this year, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department.
Memphis has recorded nearly five times as many officer arrests than Nashville.
While the records show that most arrests of officers and police staff have been for minor infractions, such as driving under the influence, Wharton on Sept. 25 expressed frustration with the string of arrests and embarrassing incidents involving Memphis police.

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