NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri where a white police officer killed an unarmed black teen during a pursuit, two state lawmakers filed a bill Thursday to “help end” what they call “racial profiling by law enforcement in Tennessee.”
The measure is sponsored by Brian Kelsey, who is a white state senator from suburban Memphis, and John DeBerry, an African-American state representative from the city of Memphis.
“Certainly we have seen in Ferguson and New York as well that there is a huge discrepancy in how police are perceived in America,” Sen. Kelsey told News 2 Thursday morning. “We need to make sure that people in our state have confidence that the police are treating people equally.”
The two lawmakers call the measure the “The Racial Profiling Prevention Act.”
In a media release, they say the act “defines the discriminatory practice and calls for all law enforcement agencies in the state to adopt a written policy to prevent it by January 1, 2016.”
Law enforcement agencies are wondering why the measure is needed.
“It looks like a solution looking for a problem,” said Metro police Sgt. Bob Weaver, who is president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police. “Professional police departments don’t racially profile. We criminally profile looking for people conducting a criminal act.”
Sgt. Weaver said “we have had policies in place for years in Metro” against racial profiling.
Sen. Kelsey and Rep. DeBerry plan to introduce their bill when the Tennessee General Assembly convenes on January 13, 2015.
Weaver did not see law enforcement groups like his lobbying against the bill.