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Louisville leaders, community react to Department of Justice probe into Metro Police

Some are welcoming the civil investigation as an opportunity to create change within the department.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Now that federal officials have launched an investigation into Louisville’s policing practices, people around Kentucky are sharing their reaction to the news, including Gov. Beshear.

While some may see the investigation into potential wrongdoing by Metro Police as a cause for concern, Mayor Greg Fischer, Chief Erika Shields and other city leaders say they are looking at this as an opportunity to create change within the department.

Here are thoughts from leaders in the Louisville area. 

Mayor Greg Fischer

“Know that you are the ultimate winners of this review, which will help us remove as quickly as possible any obstacles standing in the way of Louisville becoming a more just and more compassionate city – a city of equity and constitutional policing for all of our residents."

Governor Andy Beshear

"Today, I have talked to the Department of Justice team that will be conducting the investigation -- I've talked to I think it's associate attorney general Gupta -- I appreciated that call.

I've spoken to Mayor Fischer and my reaction is that policing is an almost a sacred responsibility where we convey such power and authority on individuals to keep us safe.

That means that with that power and authority those individuals need to be making right and just decisions all the time and because of that level of authority that we convey, we always need to be open about ensuring we are doing things right and in this instance that we are ultimately building the confidence in every part of our population and treating everybody the same and ensuring that everybody's civil rights are upheld.

So just like the mayor, who has pledged his full cooperation to the extent that anything is asked of the state, we will cooperate as well."

Attorney General Daniel Cameron

"Across this country, law enforcement agencies have an incredible responsibility to protect the men, women, and children in the communities they serve. Since taking office, I have emphasized the importance of strong and healthy local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to fulfill this responsibility. It is my hope that the Department of Justice's civil investigation into LMPD's practices will assist LMPD in its mission to protect and serve the Louisville community."

Former Kentucky Representative and 2020 Senate candidate Charles Booker

“What I want, and what people across Kentucky want, is true community safety. We want a commonwealth where everyone, Black, White, or Brown, can feel safe walking down our streets or sleeping in our beds. It’s heartbreaking that the United States Department of Justice needs to investigate our city, and the officers sworn to protect us. But it is clear our city’s leadership has much deeper work to do, including structural reform, to ensure what happened to Breonna Taylor never happens again. On the path to accountability and justice, I believe this step is necessary and important. I applaud Attorney General Garland for his leadership.” 

Louisville Branch NAACP

The Louisville Branch NAACP strongly endorses the U. S. Justice Department’s decision to investigate the practices of the Louisville Police Department.  This investigation is long overdue because problems within the department have persisted for years. The fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor last year laid bare the problem in the most tragic way.  The NAACP also welcomes the Justice Department’s recommitment to examining civil rights cases – a long-held practice it had backed away from in the recent past.

Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor

"I can’t wait for the world to see Louisville Police Department for what it really is."

Attorneys Ben Crump, Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker

"Today, with Attorney General Garland's announcement of a Justice Department civil investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, our legal team and the family of Breonna Taylor send our support to the DOJ for taking this step towards justice for Breonna and better policing in Louisville. We are hopeful that this investigation will bring the ugly patterns and practices of Louisville law enforcement into the light. While it remains a disgusting miscarriage of justice that the state and Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron did not have this same dedication to accountability and transparency, it is gratifying to see it at the federal level. We hope that the DOJ looks beyond Kentucky and also launches investigations into the countless other departments across the U.S. that demonstrate similar patterns of racism and corrupt policing."

Denorver "Dee" Garrett, Prominent Activist

"Somebody is finally hearing our voices after over a year."

River City FOP

"The River City Fraternal Order of Police understands the right of the federal government to conduct a pattern-or-practice investigation of the Louisville Metro Police Department, or any police department. We are confident that at the conclusion of the investigation the division will find no systemic violations of constitutional or federal statutory rights by the officers of the LMPD. 

The investigation may reveal administration and leadership failures that have culminated in a critical manpower shortage and record spikes in violent crime. The FOP has repeatedly pointed out these leadership issues. 

We look forward to meeting with DOJ investigators and assisting in this process in any way possible."

Mayor Fischer said the DOJ did not tell them how long the investigation will take but did say similar investigations in Chicago and Baltimore have taken around 13 months though LMPD is a smaller department. 

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