LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Substantial raises are coming for Louisville Metro Police (LMPD) officers and sergeants.
Louisville's Metro Council voted to approve the new contract during Thursday night's meeting, more than two weeks after LMPD's union (River City FOP) gave the deal its stamp of approval.
The contract passed with 20-3, along with one councilmember voting 'present.' They were faced with pushback from dozens of people filling the council chamber, raising signs saying 'vote no,' 'send it back,' and holding up photos of Breonna Taylor.
The crowd immediately started walking out -- even yelling in frustration -- from the moment councilmembers passed the resolution.
"I just want to let you know you all are cowards," said one woman from the crowd.
The new contract will now immediately raise new and current salaries. It boosts starting officer pay to as much as $52,561 a year, by July 2022.
Current officers and sergeants will now see nine percent raises right away. Officers with a minimum of two years of experience will go up to $63,000 per year. Sergeants will get boosted to at least nearly $82,000 a year immediately.
It will also mean another six percent raise midway through 2022, double what was proposed back in August. New accountability reforms, including suspensions without pay, stayed the same from the last deal voted down.
Up until the final vote, during the public comment portion, many in the community demanded better accountability written in fine print, like making use-of-force violations a fireable offense.
"The suspension memo -- those provisions are still in the contract," said Cara Tobe with the 490 Project.
The contract has some reform, including promises to better retain complaints of officer wrongdoing.
"The contract extends the period informal complaints remain in police records from 90 days to two years when they're deleted if not addressed. Councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong, prior to her 'No' vote, voiced concerns over transparency, worried even in the two-year span that many informal complaints will go unseen by the public."
Two areas of thinking came to a head in the final vote: Those saying LMPD needs better pay for better performance.
"We need to pay competitive wages to retain and recruit," Councilwoman Nicole George said.
Others saying without proper accountability, raises aren't deserved.
"We gotta hold police to the same standard, as we do every other field, if not a higher standard because they have weapons," said Shauntrice Martin, another person who addressed Metro Council.
Councilwoman George even addressed the audience directly.
"Not agreeing with someone's vote does not mean they do not care, and does not mean they're not listening," she said.
On Thursday night, activists even took their message just outside City Hall. Before the vote, they laid down 50 tiles, each with a name written on them, bringing attention to Black men and women who've died at the hands of police across the country.
"The lack of acknowledgment that Black lives still matter, that's what it represents to me," Jeffery Compton said.
Meanwhile, there's the bigger picture – whether the move will help curb the record violence in Louisville. Ultimately, the majority of councilmembers are putting faith in Police Chief Erika Shields and her department, hoping the deal will bring more officers and slow the pace of violence.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer issued the following statement on Twitter following the vote:
To address my No. 1 priority, public safety, we must work together to ensure Louisville has a police department that offers competitive compensation to retain and drive recruitment of the best and brightest officers. I appreciate Metro Council for passing this contract that will move us forward with implementing reforms and strengthening the trust between officers and the communities they serve.