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Five of the nine members of Chattanooga's recently formed Police Advisory Review Committee were approved at Tuesday's city council meeting.

Council members began discussing the formation of an oversight board earlier this year after a series of allegations of police brutality and misconduct, including rape, sexual battery and the filmed beating of a 37-year-old man during a traffic stop in March 2018.

The creation of the board was approved last month. Since then, council members have been choosing who they want on the committee.

Nominees will need to show a track record of serving the people of Chattanooga for at least 10 years and will have to be confirmed by a majority council vote, according to the ordinance detailing the board's functions.

 

So far, these are the people chosen to serve:

District 4: Councilman Darrin Ledford appointed Michael Watkins, who Ledford described as a U.S. Navy veteran and retired General Electric executive, to serve a three-year term on the board.

District 5: Councilman Russell Gilbert appointed Christy Rashed to serve a one-year term on the board.

District 6: Councilwoman Carol Berz appointed retired senior administrative law judge Richard W. Gordon for a one-year term.

District 8: Councilman Anthony Byrd appointed "active and engaged" community member Sylvester Harris for a two-year term. "He keeps us on our toes, he definitely keeps me on my toes, and I think he'll be a great, great asset to this police advisory board."

District 9: Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod appointed Jaqueline Anderson Thomas, a 2018 Democratic candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives District 28, for a one-year term.

 

While some council members were more descriptive of their nominees, all nominees were approved unanimously.

Term limits are initially staggered: Three members will serve for one year, three members will serve for two years, and three members will serve for three years.

But after the first round, all appointments will be for three years. And no member can serve more than two consecutive terms.

The committee is to review all internal investigations' findings and, by a majority vote, either ask for further investigation or recommend disciplinary action. However, the police chief has the final say on officer discipline.

Earlier in Tuesday's council meeting, council members heard from concerned citizens on the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget in a public hearing.

Several members of the local Service Employees International Union supported Mayor Andy Berke's budget, specifically praising the proposed 2.5% pay raise for city employees.

"It's one thing to recruit jobs to our city that pay well; it's another to lead by example by making jobs in our city the best they can be," said Bray Rayson, the union's president. "This is really important to help raise our lowest-paid employees to help them improve their living standards and provide for their families."

Other members of the public called for significant changes to the budget.

"There are some things that I am particularly concerned about our budget — of course the fact that an overwhelming amount of it is going to our police department, which is corrupt," said District 8 activist Marie Mott, who called for more money for youth and family development. "The fact that we have not cleaned up the police department and yet they eat up the majority of our budget is a disgrace I think it's even more disgraceful that public safety seems to be at the top and our children are down at the bottom."

Mott, who got in a verbal skirmish with Council Chairman Erskine Oglesby during last week's business improvement district public hearing, spoke out of turn again at this meeting, later yelling out from the audience during other speakers' comments.

The council will hold its final of five education sessions Tuesday from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the conference room of the City Council building at 1000 Lindsay St., and will begin deliberations on its preparedness to vote on the budget.

The first reading is scheduled for Tuesday at the 6 p.m. voting council meeting and, if it passes, the second hearing will be held June 25 at the 6 p.m. meeting. All voting meetings are held in the council chamber of the City Council building.

The full budget can be viewed at http://budget.chattanooga.gov.

Contact Sarah Grace Taylor at staylor@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgtaylor.

Contact Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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