Mayor and LMPD update community about ongoing public safety reform efforts; announce virtual community forum
Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields today provided the community with an update on the progress of the substantive changes initiated in the wake of the 2020 national reckoning with policing, of which Louisville was at the forefront.
They also announced a virtual community forum happening at 2 p.m. this Saturday (September 10, 2022) and encouraged residents to participate in a conversation about the city’s public safety efforts. The forum will be streamed on the Mayor’s Facebook page.
The updates come as the Department of Justice continues its Patterns and Practice investigation, the Mayor said, noting that, “It’s important that the community understand the progress we’ve made on significant reforms, and the vital work yet to be done as we work to reimagine public safety – which is my No. 1 priority and Louisville Metro Government’s single greatest responsibility. My thanks go to the men and women of the Police Department who are stepping up every day to reflect and reform to become the best police department in the nation and to the protesters and community groups who never stopped demanding justice for Breonna. These reforms are a result of their tireless efforts,” said the Mayor.
The city accelerated its work to reimagine public safety and hasten reforms to restore police-community trust in the wake of the tragic death of Breonna Taylor in 2020 – including the hiring of Chicago-based Hillard Heintze to perform a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review of the Louisville Metro Police Department, creation of a new Civilian Review and Accountability Board and Office of Inspector General.
“We reached an inflection point in our evolution as a city in 2020. A point when we knew we had the potential to make historic progress, particularly in the areas of racial justice and equity – and we have seized that moment,” the Mayor said.
Hillard Heintze’s independent review outlined the significant challenges and a clear roadmap to address them and to realize a shared goal for LMPD to be the best police department in the nation. Progress on Hillard Heintze’s recommendations are updated quarterly on a public dashboard at https://louisville-police.org/803/HH-Dashboard
Chief Shields said today that LMPD recognizes that restoring public trust requires a commitment to transparency, accountability and community engagement. “When I was appointed Police Chief in January of 2021, policing was at a crossroads in our city and across the nation. And I knew that LMPD was committed to evolving and improving in areas where we have readily acknowledged improvement was needed,” she said. “We are committed to continuing the positive and forward momentum to best serve all the residents of our city.”
Mayor Fischer stressed that the significant police reforms under way are only part of the city’s six-pillar “whole-of-government” approach to public safety: Community Mobilization, Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, Organization Change and Development, Re-entry. That includes additional funding for the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, whose holistic approach to reducing violence — including case-by-case intervention, citizen volunteers, and community capacity building — is contributing to recent reductions in shootings and other violence.
Mayor Fischer’s final two budget cycles for FY21-22 and 22-23 focused heavily on public safety with violence intervention and prevention investments, as well as in law enforcement. And approximately $59 million in American Rescue Plan funding has been allocated to public safety efforts, including $17.5 million to address reforms recommended by the Hillard Heintze report and ongoing reforms of the LMPD, $15.8 million for violence deterrence and prevention, and $4.8 million in public safety hiring incentives to recruit new officers.
In his budget address earlier this year, the Mayor said, “We can be pro-reform and pro-police. We can be pro-accountability for those committing crimes, and pro-investment in our people, so they never go down a path of violence.”
- Among the reforms initiated over the past two years:
- Implemented Breonna’s Law, which bans no-knock warrants and expands requirements for officers’ use of body cameras.
- Strengthened use-of-force policies and rules on use of tear gas.
- Changed LMPD policy regarding an officer’s duty to intervene in the event they see a fellow officer using excessive force.
- Revised the FOP Union contract to increase officer pay by 21% since FY21, and to include significant changes to address oversight, enhance supervision and build community trust.
- Revised search warrant and currency seizure policies.
- Approved and funded a deflection program to redirect a number of 911 calls to a non-police response focused on problem-solving, de-escalation and referral to appropriate community services.
- Changed management and accountability systems.
- Established the Civilian Review and Accountability Board and Office of Inspector General and appointed Ed Harness as the city’s first Inspector General.
- Made vast changes in LMPD leadership, naming Erika Shields as Chief after a national search with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), hiring Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel as Deputy Chief, to help lead the way in building police-community trust, and promoted a new Deputy Chief of Reform, Paul Humphrey, to drive all change at LMPD. Added a new Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Minerva Virola.
- Launched a new Louisville Metro Police Activities League (PAL) to bring together kids, cops and communities through a variety of out-of-school-time activities, camps, clubs and sports – creating opportunities for mentorship, and for young people and officers to interact in a positive environment. And formed a Youth Advisory Council to give kids a platform to voice issues impacting youth in the community.
- Added a $5,000 incentive to officers to purchase a primary residence in a qualified census tract and we continue to encourage this homeownership opportunity.
- Implemented an Early Intervention System in late 2021 to alert supervisors to sudden behavioral changes in officers or other factors, such as use of force, sick leave usage and vehicle accidents. Alerts will prompt supervisors to intervene and address potentially problematic behaviors and, if appropriate, find ways to redirect.
- Required drug testing post critical incident.
- Formed the clergy de-escalation team to respond to scenes of community trauma and serve as a resource for those impacted by tragedy.
- Implemented a new LMPD Accountability and Improvement Bureau that will:
- Create new training positions, including a full-time legal instructor, a curriculum writer and academic director;
- Establish an Audit Unit to review use of force investigations, domestic violence response, wearable video system compliance and other critical areas;
- Establish a Performance Review Board to evaluate use of force incidents and provide swift feedback to improve officer performance, additional training, and recommend needed changes to policy, equipment, supervision and communications; and
- Create a Wellness Unit, which will include a full-time psychologist, counselors, and a full-time Chaplain to support officers’ mental health and well-being.
“This unit will help us identify areas of improvement … to evaluate use of force incidents and provide swift feedback to enhance officer performance, additional training, and recommend needed changes to policy, equipment, supervision and communications,” Deputy Chief Humphrey said. “I am confident the Accountability and Improvement Bureau is a comprehensive team which will lead LMPD forward in the implementation of progressive change to best serve our community.”
In addition, the city has fundamentally changed the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the FOP to enhance accountability and documentation, including:
Limitations on promotions for officers with sustained findings of bias, untruthfulness, open criminal charges or pending criminal investigations;
Limitations on militarized equipment;
Elimination of requirements that some complaints against officers be destroyed after 90 days;
Making permanent past disciplinary findings involving excessive use of force, sexual misconduct, bias, criminal activity, and truthfulness;
Requiring more drug and alcohol testing for officers, especially after critical incidents; and
Subordinating the agreement to state law changes.