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  The Year in Review


PARC's Patrol

The committee that Mayor Victor Ashe created to keep an eye on police behavior didn't do much of anything in its first year, reviewing just one complaint against the police (which it has yet to decide on). However, some PARC members want to take a more proactive role, and the committee could become more active in the upcoming year. PARC's executive director, Carol Scott, has kept busy reviewing complaints, and is at work establishing a system to monitor the complaints by computer. She has yet to disagree with police on any of the investigations that she's reviewed.

Sweeping the City

Early in the morning of Aug. 1, patrons at the hip hop club The Network in Western Plaza left the club after a night of dancing, drinking, and partying to find several police waiting for outside. A police street sweeper drove through the parking lot, splashing several patrons with water—a tactic police use to disperse crowds. Police (some of them working off duty for Western Plaza) had been spending a lot of time at the club, claiming there had been a lot of fights, under-age drinking and drug use in and around the Network. But club workers and its patrons claimed that what really disturbed the police was that the club happened to attract a lot of young black men to a wealthy, largely white neighborhood. Club workers had videotaped the incident and showed them to council members, one of whom said it reminded him of police confrontations during the Civil Rights movement. Police Chief Phil Keith said the sweeper was inappropriately used, and issued new guidelines for when it should be employed. Not long afterwards, The Network shut down. The club's lawyer, Gregory Isaacs, is investigating the incident and considering a lawsuit.

Exactly one week before the Network incident, police called in the street sweeper to help clear a riot at O'Charley's on the Cumberland Avenue Strip. Some 14 people were arrested during the incident, which began when a patron allegedly punched a security officer. Off-duty police officers work at the club.

Ray Hill: A Wanted Man

Early one summer morning, County Commission majordomo Ray Hill was puttering around his South Knoxville apartment when there came a knock on his door. It was two uniformed officers of the Knoxville Police Department requesting his presence at the county jail over not showing up in court on a charge of running a stop sign. Hill's dog Archie attempted to flee the premises, and Hill says he pulled the door shut to prevent the Scottie's escape. To the officers, however, Hill's action constituted obstruction of justice, so, in Hill's words, "they came crashing through the door and threw me on the couch." Hill was carted off to jail in his bathrobe (not the good silk one with the dragon on the back) and slippers and charged with failure to appear in court and resisting arrest. The case was dismissed this fall, but Hill was peevish over some of the television coverage, particularly at one female anchor who struggled to keep a straight face as she reported the contretemps: "Evidently she would enjoy being face down on the couch beneath two large cops more than I."