NASHVILLE — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and State Representative John DeBerry (D-Memphis) today filed legislation to help end racial profiling by law enforcement agencies in Tennessee. The “Racial Profiling Prevention 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.
Kelsey said the bill was created as a result of the events that took place earlier this year in Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson during a pursuit of the unarmed teenager. The shooting sparked a national debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African Americans as it relates to the use of force and racial profiling.
“Whether you agree with the decision of Ferguson or not, we should all agree that racial profiling has no place in law enforcement in our state,” said Senator Kelsey.
Senate Bill 6 defines racial profiling as the detention, interdiction, or other disparate treatment of an individual based solely on perceived race, color, ethnicity or national origin. The bill would apply to any law enforcement agency responsible for preventing and detecting crime and enforcing laws or local ordinances if their employees are authorized to make arrests for crimes. It would also apply to officers employed by colleges and universities.
The General Assembly will convene to begin the 109th General Assembly on January 13.