Chattanooga police officer Sgt. Wayne Jefferson talks to members of the citizens police academy in Chattanooga. (Photo David Tulis)

Police powers reform in Tennessee is beginning in Chattanooga. Here are the main arguments for directing city police to respect the limits of the statute at Tenn. Code Ann. § Title 55, the state transportation statute, the enforcement of which must comply with the federal transportation statue at USC § Title 49. 

This list is the basis of my discussion with city attorney Phil Noblett. But an interview in his office in the city hall annex focuses solely on the limits of the statute (or, as he would put it, the absolute lack of limit on the law). The conversation did not get into the political, economic and social benefits of strict obedience to the statute, which are reserved for this review of how obeying the statute has several benefits for Chattanooga.

Main benefits

➤ End of ultra vires (outside the scope of law) police activity respects rights of citizens

➤ Respect for vital property right of travel

➤ Avoiding lawsuits against city, individual cops

➤ Reducing conflict between citizens and police

➤ Power of genuine community policing

➤ More effective commercial transportation enforcement to prevent Benjamin Brewers and Johnthany Walker-type accidents in transportation sector

➤ Acting in good faith, obeying law

Social/economic benefits

➤ End or solve the poor people’s court debt crisis (U.S. district judge Alita Trauger, Nashville litigation overturning TN court debt program)

➤ Halt racist tactics and profiling (Nashville traffic study)

➤ Relieve poor, ignorant of sanctioned, court-approved oppression, also blacks, immigrants, orphans and widows

➤ Respect for family and individual

➤ Liberty and personal security, which is chief enabler prosperity, capitalization, societal optimism

➤ Align/obey federal law

➤ Reduce overcrowding problem in jail, slow intake of industrial-judicial complex and its need for warm bodies

➤ Halt highwayman extortion racket of ultra vires activity

City attorney Noblett listens to claims about right to travel, limits on cop power

➤ End the muddy practice of arrest pretending to be something else (detention). State v. Raspberry, State v. Garcia say blue lights = arrest. Miranda

➤ Re-establish criminal standard in Title 39 of probable cause for all aggressive encounters with public. Title 55 is a reduced substitute nonconstitutional standard.

➤ Comply with law as written, encourage officials in all areas of government to obey limits

➤ Stop pretense that all travelers are commercial. Halt rebuttable presumption in favor of citizens rights

➤ Legal distinction between transportation common travel

Benefits for cops

➤ Eliminate riskiest type of encounter with public, the traffic stop

➤ Emphasis on genuine community policing, cop helper as opposed to highway man and danger

➤ Cops focus on real crimes; no pretext stop under Title 55

➤ Cutting jobs and police department, F$75 million dollar budget

➤ Reallocating resources to crimes, true transportation enforcement (Brewer case, Woodmore case)

➤ No oppression or tort lawsuits

Political benefits for Mayor Berke

➤ National model for reform in ending racist practices that follow Dredd Scott defense of travel permits

➤ All states have the same problem; 100% paradigm shift for end of police abuse starts here

➤ Politically, move pleases all comers

➤ On left, unions and labor groups, Democrats, immigrant supporters, ACLU, advocates for poor, race activists, charities, NAACP

➤ On right, constitutionalists, conservatives, libertarians, free marketers, advocates of limited state government

Sue cop as oppessor, defend self in traffic court: Transportation Administrative Notice

➤ Mayor Andy Berke becomes national figure as genius, man of great insight, concern, decisive victory. And all he’s doing is obeying the law.

National trend

➤ Supports policing by eliminating one of its worse abuses; attacks policing and centralized security solutions as tech/app/Web allow for networks to solve policing problem

➤ Police violence already yielding in Chatt to CIT as third of jail inmates have mental problems or addictions. TAN reduces police need

➤ City brings cops under control as national model. Huge loss of blue power base

➤ Sanctuary city

➤ Devolution trend worldwide

➤ Municipal self-determination

Read more on administrative notice

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