Sen. Kelsey, Rep. DeBerry File Bill Aimed at "Racial Profiling"

The measure, so far only in caption form, would require written policies of all law enforcement agencies in Tennessee.


Rep. John DeBerry
  • Rep. John DeBerry
Sen. Brian Kelsey
  • Sen. Brian Kelsey

The information on it is skimpy so far, and the effect of it may ultimately be no more than that of a resolution of good will, but two Memphis legislators filed a bill on Thursday that, ostensibly at least, is aimed at racial profiling by Tennessee law enforcement officials.

The bill, identified in a accompanying press release from the Senate Republican Caucus with its title caption and a Senate bill number, reads as follows, in its entirety:

SB 0006 by *Kelsey. Human Rights - As introduced, enacts the "Racial Profiling Prevention Act"; requires each state and local law enforcement agency to adopt, on or before January 1, 2016, a written policy that prohibits racial profiling. - Amends TCA Title 4; Title 38, Chapter 1 and Section 49-7-118.

State Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and state Rep. John DeBery (D-Memphis) are the co-sponsors.

The press release that also contains a quote from Kelsey and a bit of further amplification:

“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 bill would clearly seem to be a reaction to the kind of racial divide that was exposed after the recent deaths at the hands of police of two unarmed African Americans -- Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York.

Conspicuously, however, neither the bill caption for the release have anything to say regarding enforcement machinery on the part of the state or the extent to which penalties for non-compliance might be exacted or just how a “written policy” might be converted into practical mandates.

But presumably these matters can be added during the course of the legislative session as the bill is taken up for discussion and consideration.

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