Senate Approves Bill to Make Officer-Involved Shooting Deaths Public

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NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee House of Representatives has voted to make TBI investigative records around officer-involved shooting deaths public. Last week, the Tennessee Senate approved the bill unanimously. Senate Bill 1039 and House Bill 277 is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, and Representative G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis.

“As you know, this matter is of particular interest to those of us in Memphis,” said Representative G.A. Hardaway. “We have to be able to trust that the process works, and for that to happen, the process has to be transparent.  The fair, equitable administration of justice is enhanced by the increased transparency created by this bipartisan legislation.”

Tennessee public records law currently exempts all TBI investigative records from public disclosure, thus making them confidential. These records are generally only disclosed to the public with a court order. The bill provides that TBI investigative records around officer-involved shooting deaths are made public after the investigation and prosecution are completed.

“I would submit that there is no greater government action than the taking of a life and no more legitimate public interest in government-produced information,” Senator Lee Harris said. “We shouldn’t keep these records confidential from the public after the investigation and prosecution are concluded.”

Speaking in support of the bill on the Senate floor, Senator Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, stated, “We need to make this information public to exonerate law enforcement officers who are at times wrongfully accused of wrongdoing, and we need to make this information public when there is wrongdoing so the public will have confidence in our law enforcement.”

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