Mayor announces external top-to-bottom review of LMPD

June 3, 2020

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer today announced the city is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a comprehensive, top-to-bottom review of the Louisville Metro Police Department.

“Louisville Metro Government as a whole is focused on continuous improvement,” the Mayor said. “As we begin a search for a new police chief, this seems like a very good time to review the policies, procedures and structure of our police department to ensure that it aligns with the goals and values of our entire community.”

The Mayor said his office is reaching out to Metro Council to determine how best to involve them in the RFP process.

The review is meant “to ensure we are utilizing best practices and sound policies and procedures in all aspects of our work,” said acting LMPD Chief Robert Schroeder.

The review will focus on a number of areas, including training in use of force and bias-free policing, as well as accountability, supervision, community engagement, and other topics, the Chief said, adding that it will also identify any obstacles in implementing changes to improve those areas. 

The RFP requires the successful firm to conduct listening sessions to ensure “substantial interactions” with community members, interest groups, prosecutors and defense attorneys and police personnel.

“It’s key that residents are involved in this review,” the Mayor said.

Also today, the Mayor announced that a search for a new permanent police chief has begun.

The city will be contracting with the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based police research organization with critical experience with the role, responsibilities and experience required of successful law enforcement chief executives, to conduct the search. Since its founding in 1976, PERF has identified best practices on fundamental issues such as reducing police use of force; developing community policing and problem-oriented policing; using technologies to deliver police services to the community; and evaluating crime reduction strategies.

Chief Schroeder noted that, “PERF understands the selection of a police executive is one of the most important tasks a city can undertake, and a solid, rigorous search process is critical to identifying the right person.”

Mayor Fischer stressed that he wants residents and LMPD input on the selection of a new chief, and the city will be setting up a survey form to facilitate that process.

The search for a new police chief and LMPD review are just the latest steps the Mayor has taken to improve police and community relations.

On May 29, the Mayor announced a “Sentinel Event Review” into the LMPD’s handling of the Breonna Taylor case, with the goal of identifying and addressing any systemic flaws, preventing their recurrence, and earning public trust. This joint project of the National Institute of Justice and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation is like a root causes review in a medical case. A Sentinel Event Review is meant to identify underlying factors in critical incidents in an effort to improve the criminal justice system and police community trust and legitimacy.

The idea, Mayor Fischer said, is that when bad things happen in a complex system like a government or, specifically, a police department, the cause is rarely a single act, event, or mistake. "More often, bad outcomes are the result of compound errors and signal underlying weaknesses in the system, policies, or processes. As we figure out and address those weaknesses, we can find ways to strengthen the system and prevent future tragedies like the death of Breonna Taylor.”

In a message to LMPD staff today, Chief Schroeder outlined all the actions being taken and noted, “These are difficult times we are living through, and you have stood up to the challenge. You are working long hours, weathering the insults and assaults being hurled at you in the process. And you are hearing what some in our community think of police. While that might not be easy to hear sometimes, it is important we understand this is a sign we have a lot of work to do to earn the trust we need to do our jobs well. … We are in a period of change and I know change is never easy. What I know about LMPD though is it is made up fine men and women who will rise to any challenge. Keep doing good work and stay safe.”