The City Council is our legislative branch of government and must provide oversight to all departments that comprise the executive branch. Under our current structure, the Police Accountability and Review Committee is within the executive branch. To be able to provide adequate oversight to the Knoxville Police Department, I would like to lead a city-wide conversation to explore the idea of transitioning PARC from the Administration to a standing committee of the City Council, similar to the audit committee, but with expanded staffing and an expanded mandate to be able to address whistleblower complaints and complaints of sexual harassment. Under this structure, the Vice-Mayor would appoint the director of PARC rather than the mayor and nominations for the PARC board would come from city council rather than the mayor’s office. Such a change would require a change in our charter.
In addition to exploring structural changes to PARC, as a member of City Council, I would lead an effort tostrengthen protections for all city employees by introducinga City of Knoxville Whistleblower Protection ordinance that protects city employees from disciplinary actions initiated by their supervisor, department head, or the mayorthat could be perceived to be retaliatory responses to the employee’s disclosure of illegal or improper actions on behalf of their fellow employees, members of the department, or the mayor’s office. Adoption of whistleblower protectionswould require the city to implementan internal process for reviewing complaints associated with the ordinance and appropriate accountability measures for those whoviolate it. To that end, I wouldwork to create an ongoing mechanism within the city council that providesa safe space for workerstoreport when they do not feel safe reporting to their direct supervisor. If PARC were to become a committee of the City Council in our charter, rather than of the Administration, PARC staff could serve this purpose for law enforcement.