GOP Leader Ashe to Legislature: Leave Oversight Boards Alone

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Longtime Tennessee Republican leader Victor Ashe, former Mayor of Knoxville and former Ambassador to Poland under President George W. Bush, praised the work of Knoxville’s police oversight board and took a shot at the GOP-led legislature for attempts to weaken Nashville’s new oversight board.

“By a broad consensus, PARC (Police Advisory Review Council) has worked well in Knoxville and has stood the test of time. It has gone a long way to establish credibility and objectivity in disputes involving the Police Department,” wrote Ashe. “It is unfortunate that legislation to weaken it is pending, when it has been a credit to Knoxville.

Ashe wrote the comments Feb. 18 in a column for the Knoxville Shopper News, which is part of Gannett-owned daily Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Nashville voters overwhelmingly voted to support creation of a Citizens Oversight Board (COB) in the November election, but Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) has filed a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly to take subpoena power from the COB, legislation Governor Bill Lee has expressed support for. Curcio says his bill, co-sponsored by House heavyweights including Speaker Glen Casada and Majority Leader William Lamberth, has nothing to do with Nashville.

Ashe created PARC by executive order in 1998 and Knoxville City Council later ratified the commission. He pointed out every police chief has supported PARC since it was created.

Knoxville City Council approved a resolution Feb. opposing Curcio’s bill, as it would also strip subpoena power from PARC.

Ashe was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1968 and served through 1974. He was a state senator from Knoxville 1975-1984 and was elected Knoxville mayor in 1987 and served for 16 years.

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