LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the DOJ investigates Louisville metro government and LMPD, Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields heard concerns and addressed changes made since 2020, in a digital forum, Saturday.
According to Fischer, more than 150 actions have been taken to address public safety.
“We acknowledge we have a lot to do, but a lot of work has been done,” Chief Shields said.
The roundtable discussion was an hour long and looked at the evolution of public safety and policing in Louisville.
“We're trying to go from where some police-forces were a warrior mentality to a guardian mentality, right?" Fischer said.
Of the more than 150 changes Fischer specifically highlighted this: it's now an officer's duty to intervene if they see a fellow officer using excessive force. The change was made in June of 2020.
“We expect our officers to either intervene verbally or if necessary a physical intervention might be possible to protect somebody else,” Former Interim LMPD Chief, Robert Schroeder, said in a June 2020 press conference.
The following April, Governor Beshear signed Breonna’s Law, effectively banning no-knock warrants.
The Taylor family’s attorney, Lonita Baker, said of the law in April 2021, “this is a start and win in a deeply divided General Assembly.”
In October of 2021, the civilian review board met for the first time.
These are all examples, Mayor Fischer says, that help the city get ahead of looming recommendations from the Department of Justice’s investigation into LMPD’s internal workings.
“I think what we're going to have to wait and see is how that plays out in real time when an incident happens,” Kungu Njuguna, a Policy Strategist with the American Civil Liberty Union of Kentucky’s Advocacy Department, said. “Some of those things sound good, but let's see what happens."
He believes some good has come out of the last year and a half.
“Actually, that would be one thing that I think has been a positive, is the 911 diversion pilot program,” Njuguna said.
Piloted in Southwest Louisville, it provides an acute non-police response for people experiencing non-violent behavioral crises.
During its initial 49-days, the program resulted in 119 people receiving crisis support.
Njuguna says the city could expand the program, adding the strongest change will come from outreach.
“You know, I think the police, LMPD and the city need to do more to engage the community, [the] people who are on the street, in the community who know their communities,” he said.
After Taylor's death, in 2020, Mayor Fischer called in risk-management company Hillard Heintze to audit LMPD. It found more than 100 trouble spots within the department.
Fast forward to now, according to a report by the police department, it's implemented more than 37% of Hillard Heintze’s recommended changes, with 47% still in process.