Chattanooga lawmaker's bill would require police to take annual diversity training courses

District 28 Democrat candidate Yusuf Hakeem speaks during a meet and greet hosted by the League of Women Voters in the Chattanooga Rooms at the University Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

NASHVILLE - Concerns over recent local police incidents involving excessive force in encounters with minorities have spurred a state lawmaker from Chattanooga to file legislation requiring the state to provide annual training for law enforcement on diversity, race relations and "cultural awareness."

"There is a concern within the city, and our community, as to what is perceived as excessive force," said Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, a Democrat and the lone black member of Hamilton County's legislative delegation. "I think part of the problem is that people don't really know each other."

The purpose of the legislation is to "just afford the opportunity for incoming officers in particular to learn more about the people they are policing," said Hakeem, a former Chattanooga city councilman who spent seven years as a member of the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole.