Council committee to hear work group’s final recommendations for independent Civilian Review Board

October 28, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James today announced their Civilian Review Board Work Group’s proposal to establish a new Civilian Review & Accountability Board will be heard by the Council’s Public Safety Committee at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28.

The group’s recommendation would add a new layer of independent review to Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) disciplinary matters The new board would be comprised of 11 members, each appointed by the Mayor and approved by Metro Council.

“This independent review panel will become an integral component to rebuilding community trust and legitimacy, and it will provide residents with an extra avenue of police accountability,” said the Mayor. “I applaud the members of the work group for their commitment to transparency and look forward to signing this into law once approved by Metro Council.”

As drafted, and upon approval, the existing Citizen’s Commission on Police Accountability would be abolished, and all authority previously vested with the commission would be bestowed to the new Civilian Review & Accountability Board.

The draft proposal, filed with Metro Council on Monday, October 19, also recommends creation of an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and appointment of an Inspector General (IG). The OIG will be separate from any other agency or department of Louisville Metro Government and will have a separate budget of $763,500; this appropriation is already designated in the FY21 budget through the Criminal Justice Commission.

The work group recommends the IG would have the authority to investigate alleged incidents involving any members of the LMPD and any member of the public – and have subpoena power, which would require a change in state law. Duties of the IG may include examining patterns and practices with LMPD; reviewing policies, procedures and operations within LMPD; providing recommendations on improving operations to the Mayor and Metro Council; investigating complaints; and other operations as needed.

The work group that created the proposal was initiated in May and co-chaired by Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney (D-7) and Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen. Its members included more than 30 faith leaders, law enforcement representatives, community advocates and elected officials from across the Louisville community. A full list of members can be found here.

“The people of our city can be confident and thankful to the members of the work group who worked so hard to put this proposed legislation together,” said Metro Council President David James. “I commend Councilwoman McCraney and Deputy Mayor Hesen for their leadership. Now I look forward to the review, discussion and ultimate passage of this important piece of legislation by Metro Council. I also call upon the leadership of the Kentucky state legislature to please help usher through changes to state law to allow for subpoena power for Civilian Review Oversite of LMPD.”

Hesen said: “It’s been a genuine honor to have served as co-chair, along with Councilwoman McCraney. This draft legislation is truly a crosscut of community leaders’ opinions and recommendations, and echoes our city values, needs and goals.”   

Councilwoman McCraney said, “It has been an honor to serve as the co-chairman of a workgroup involved in the establishment of a Civilian Review & Accountability Board. I am extremely proud of the collaboration, contributions and dedication of members of the workgroup. Together, we have created a mechanism for a fair and impartial oversight and review of citizen complaints and internal investigations conducted by the Louisville Metro Police Department. In addition, an Office of Inspector General is formed to conduct investigations independent of LMPD on behalf of the Civilian Review & Accountability Board. I look forward to introducing the ordinance to the community, and I’m confident it will be met with approval because it serves to protect and respect the rights of all citizens, promotes credibility and transparency, and encourages community involvement.”

McCraney added that the goal is to build trust and confidence within the community and to ensure that complaints are handled fairly, thoroughly and in a timely manner.

Details about the Civilian Review Board work group, including members, meetings, timeline and news, can be found at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/mayor-greg-fischer/louisville-civili...

The draft proposal can be reviewed here.

 Statements from other Metro Council members participating in the work group:

 Jessica Green, District 1

“I am proud of the work this group is now offering to the Metro Council as we continue needed reforms of LMPD. It is my hope the community sees we are dedicated and serious in making sure they have a voice when law enforcement review is needed. We must make sure everyone is protected and treated equally when it comes to justice and civil rights in our city.”

 Keisha Dorsey, District 3

“It is my hope that this work group composed of government officials and citizens at large and city leaders have outlined a framework that will serve as a checkpoint for justice in this community. It was important to me that not only we revamped and strengthened the citizens review board, but it was also equally important to me that we add the component of the Office of the Inspector General. These two agencies should work in concert to restore this community’s faith and its police through analysis and review of controversial cases and complaints. Through the composition of the board along with its expanded powers it is my expectation that we can slowly but surely review cases through the lens of this community and provide ongoing recommendations to help shape a public safety organization that we are not only proud of but a part of.

“It is my expectation that the Office of the Inspector General will provide the quality assurance, technical competency to provide insight into the operational mechanisms and tactics evaluated during the boards review. Having an impartial body to present the case as well as to explain its technicalities and nuances is vital to ensuring that the process end to end is as unbiased and equitable as possible. It was my privilege to be a part of this group and although no legislation is perfect, this is a running start for our community as we pursue justice and equity, but most of all, preserve and protect the freedoms of every citizen of our great Metropolitan.”

 Bill Hollander, District 9

“Creation of a robust, sustainable civilian oversight system for LMPD, including an Inspector General and a civilian board, is long overdue. I appreciate the efforts of the community-based work group over these last few months and look forward to prompt approval of an ordinance. Metro Council showed a commitment to this work by appropriating funds in June. We now need to pass an ordinance and press the state legislature to enact reforms to enhance the work of the civilian oversight system.”