Mayor Fischer announces the latest public safety steps to ensure more transparency and strengthen public trust
”It’s critical that we at Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police do all we can to learn from this tragedy, and apply the painful lessons of the events of March 13 into our collective work to preserve public safety and strengthen public trust in our city, which is always our No. 1 priority,” the Mayor said.
In partnership with the Metro Council, the Mayor’s Office will establish a work group of community and police leaders to explore a process for a strong and independent civilian review of police disciplinary matters. This critical step will strengthen the relationship of trust and legitimacy between public safety officers and the people they serve and protect. The group will review research the Director of the Criminal Justice Commission has conducted on civilian review boards across the nation and apply the lessons to local efforts.
Members of the work group will be named later this week.
The Mayor’s Office will work with Metro Council to propose local legislation to help establish this process, and will be in conversation with the General Assembly and the Governor as well, if changes to state statutes are necessary.
“I’m glad we are able to create this task force with the administration to create a Civilian Review Board. The Metro Council started working on this legislation last year. In addition to asking the task force to work on the creation of a civilian review board, we will be asking them to review the possible creation of an Office of Inspector General. I look forward to bringing LMPD to a place that most major police departments in our country have had for a while building credibility,” said President David James, District 6.
Additionally, Mayor Fischer announced two LMPD policy changes to promote safe communities and ensure transparency in officer actions.
LMPD is changing its policy on no-knock warrants. In order to provide an additional level of scrutiny, no-knock warrants will now require sign-off from the chief of police or his designee prior to going to a judge for approval.
“It is critical that situations that carry risk for both officers and the public have been properly vetted,” said the Mayor. “Let me emphasize that this is a step, but we know there needs to be more conversation on the use of these warrants.”
LMPD also is updating its body camera policy to require that all sworn officers, including Narcotics officers, have body cameras available for serving warrants and other situations when they will be identifying themselves as police officers.
“All three of these steps must be taken to ensure transparency, to be responsive to the concerns of the public and, most importantly, to build the vital public trust needed for a safer city,” said the Mayor.
He noted that last week he announced the investigation by LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit into the Breonna Taylor case would go to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI this week. “These external reviews are essential to ensure that the public has confidence in the findings of the investigation, whatever its findings may be,” the Mayor said. “I also want to add that these agencies can seek more information if they see fit.”
The Mayor noted that these public safety changes align with other city efforts to address historic racism and promote equity, like The Synergy Project, which is part of the Lean Into Louisville initiative. Synergy fosters relationship building between residents and police, bringing them together to talk about concerns and to brainstorm ways to improve police and resident relations. Nearly 400 people participated in Synergy Action sessions before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Organizers are in the process of moving the sessions to a virtual platform. Visit www.leaninlouisville.com for programming updates.
The policy updates also align with the public safety work happening through the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, which helps coordinate successful outreach programs like ReImage and Pivot 2 Peace.
“I want to thank all of the members of our community who’ve shared their thoughts, their concerns and their ideas in the last few days for how we can move forward and learn from Breonna Taylor’s death,” said the Mayor. “That process and these conversations are incredibly important and will be ongoing. This is an important moment in the history and evolution of our city. And at Metro Government, we’re going to do everything we can to channel the pain and anger of this moment into dialogue and work that will eventually help us heal and over time, make us a stronger, safer and more connected community.”
Metro Council quotes in support:
Councilwoman Jessica Green, District 1
“It is my hope this task force will review all of the policies and procedures of LMPD and make recommendation that will help restore public confidence in the men and women who keep us safe. There are many options available to assist in a review of our local law enforcement. A Citizens Review Board is good not only for the public but will offer guidance in the future to make sure the right thing is done when enforcing the law.”
Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey, District 3
“Our communities are exhausted and tired, for years we have persevered under oppression and decades of bad policy and enforcement. This is a city where a street still determines your life expectancy and health outcomes. Working to establish trust within African American communities, but not limited to African Americans, is a long time coming. We all deserved to be treated the same, but what we deserve and what reality is not the same. Today is just one step and I would say a baby step, towards achieving and realizing the rights of life, liberty, and freedom for this community. It's sad to say, but even with 400 years of service to this country, we are citizens, but we are by no means are free.”
Councilwoman Paula McCraney, District 7
“As our country focuses on the devastation by the deaths of thousands of people due to COVID-19, we should not take our eyes off the potential pandemic of excessive force and brutality at the hands of some police officers. Given the disproportionate impact on people of color, drastic changes are needed in LMPD’s approach to public safety.”
Councilman Bill Hollander, District 9
“Oversight of police investigations is one way we can increase confidence in the police force, and we should all be looking to do that however we can. My expectation is that this group will study best practices - and bring them to Louisville. I am particularly interested in an Office of Inspector General, which can combine criminal justice experience not affiliated with the police department, truly independent review and publicly-available reports.”