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'We have a lot of work ahead of us:' LMPD presents budget proposal to Metro Council

Chief Erika Shields is asking for nearly $218 million for the 2023 budget. She said it’ll create a safer city and an overall better culture in the department.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Metro Police Department made its budget proposal pitch to Metro Council on Tuesday.

Chief Erika Shields is asking for nearly $218 million for the 2023 budget. She said it’ll create a safer Louisville and an overall better culture in the department.

"I believe we are doing a lot correctly, but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Shields said.

Shields was met with opposition during her presentation; a woman held a sign during the three-hour briefing that said, "defund LMPD" and, "Justice for Omari.” Omari Cryer is the 25-year-old man who was killed on Friday, shot by a deputy U.S. Marshal.

Shields revealed new details about the shooting before making her budget presentation; she said Cryer was shot twice in the front of his body. An eyewitness told WHAS 11 that he saw everything unfold, and said Cryer was shot while running from law enforcement, in the back.

Shields said body camera footage will be released as soon as key interviews are complete.

Shields said overall violent crime is down 15-percent, but the homicide rate is up 10%; she said domestic violence victims accounting for about 25%.

Shields said many of them had a history of being victims but weren't on the county's radar.

"Somehow, we need to be finding how to get them the olive branch before they are a victim, a homicide victim,” she said.

Shields also wants to create three new civilian positions who will serve on the Accountability and Improvement Bureau. She said someone will play a role in police training, another will write curriculum for new recruits, and another will serve as an auditor, looking at body camera footage, among other things.

Shields was met with pushback on the positions, partly because the department is 300 officers short.

"It's another body that's not out there helping us, like on the street,” Metro Councilmember James Peden said.

Shields responded by saying LMPD has not fully utilized its technology and thoroughly audit materials over the years. She also said there are outdated lesson plans, some of which Shields said she’s “embarrassed by.”

“Somebody has to audit these lesson plans and professionalize them, and I will submit to you, it shouldn’t be a cop,” Shields said. “The department is lagging in key areas of accountability. It's not made an investment in areas it should have years ago, and it could have avoided being where we are today."

These positions stem directly from the 2021 Hillard Heintze review; the Chicago-based company gave more than 100 recommendations on what LMPD should do to improve transparency.

As for the staffing shortage, Shields said the department will start advertising in Chicago; she said she’s hopeful they will attract new officers by lowering on-the-job experience from four years to three.

Shields said the budget also would fund three recruit classes as part of a three-year hiring plan.

Under that plan, LMPD would get to 1,200 officers by the end of 2025.

“The increase in staffing is crucial to continuing to fight violent crime,” Shields said.

The chief said another reason for this budget is to implement changes the Department of Justice is sure to bring up when it finishes its investigation into LMPD, which has been going on since 2020.

► Contact reporter Bobbi McSwine at BMcSwine@whas11.com or on Facebook or Twitter

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