Livingston Police Chief Greg Etheredge said continual training will be critical to improved law enforcement.
Etheredge serves on the board of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. That is one of the organizations joining with Governor Bill Lee last week to focus on better law enforcement statewide.
“I think what everyone is looking for is uniformity,” Etheredge said. “And what Algood, Cookeville, and Livingston is doing is comparable to what Maryville or Blount County or Shelbyville or Manchester are doing.”
The governor pointed to three areas that he feels need improvement. They include the use of force and duty to intervene policies, improved information sharing, and increased training. Etheredge said he thought all three of the governor’s areas of concern were equally important.
“I think everything is important in the total aspect of policing,” Etheredge said. “It’s not just one thing. Policing is not going out and writing someone a speeding ticket. Policing sometimes is dealing with someone who has lost a loved one in a car crash. There’s a lot of stuff to policing. If your heart’s in the right place the policing will follow.”
Etheredge said he thought all three of the governor’s areas of concern were equally important.
“They’re talking about increasing training related to de-escalation and community police involvement,” Etheredge said. “A lot of things to give the public a little more transparency and a little bit more confidence that we’re a professional organization to protect the public.”
Lee said last week he wanted a review to be complete in 60 days. Etheredge said he believes the time frame given by Lee shows the governor wants to see action and not just study.
“We’ve had several round table discussions about certain issues,” Etheredge said. “What sounds good on paper does not work well in reality. So you want to try to do something you can teach the officers so that they understand what their role is related to a particular issue.”
Lee also wants to make it easier to track officers who have lost their licenses or certifications due to misconduct and increase training in de-escalation techniques, public assemble interaction, and emphasizing positive interactions between officers and the community.
Etheredge said he takes pride in overseeing a police department in Livingston with officers that routinely go above and beyond for the community. He said the city had already started working on examining its police department prior to the governor’s announcement.