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'Make sure that we achieve the mission': Metro Council may strengthen Office of Inspector General

An amended ordinance would clarify the scope of the office, allow access to raw data and create a deadline for turning in civilian complaints.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Metro Council is working to strengthen the Office of Inspector General.

In the past few months, Inspector General Ed Harness has said the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) isn’t giving him the files he needs to complete investigations, including body camera footage, unedited reports and officer testimony.

In November, Harness told WHAS11 that his office and LMPD had come to an agreement and certain files would be turned over. However, that agreement is dependent on approval from Kentucky State Police, and Harness said his office hasn’t received the green light.

Now, he’s hoping changes to the two-year-old ordinance that created the office will strengthen its authority.

“There have been some setbacks, but we are here,” Harness said. “We're fully funded, and we are going to make sure that we achieve the mission as outlined in the ordinance.”

The office was created in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s death.

President David James said the purpose is to create transparency and accountability.

“It's something that's desperately needed, and I think that's why the council voted unanimously for this,” he said,

Harness explained that the ordinance would do three key things.

It would specify that the inspector general's office only focuses on LMPD administrative issues, and not criminal matters. Harness said by focusing on policy mistakes, officers will be compelled to testify, as opposed to criminal matters in which officers can reserve the right to not incriminate themselves.

“But in exchange for that compelled statement, it must be held confidential,” Harness said. “So, it can't be used in any other proceeding, and it can't be used for a criminal trial, or investigation.”

The amended ordinance would also require the Professional Standards Unit to give the inspector general civilian complaints within three days.

“We just want to ensure the public that, if they file a complaint, no matter where they file it, that the public oversight entity is going to see it and have a chance to review it and determine whether or not it's appropriate for our investigation,” Harness said.

The ordinance would also allow complete access to LMPD reports and raw data.

Harness said this includes the number of times officers use force, how many arrests are made, how many citations are issued, among other things.

However, there would still be restrictions on records contained in the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), the FBI's database. LMPD previously told WHAS11 that those files are classified, and it's the reason they can't hand them over.

The amended ordinance was pulled from Tuesday’s agenda, as Metro Council members work on even more changes.

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