Report: lack of diversity, low morale plague Louisville PD

Published 5:51 am Friday, January 29, 2021

The Louisville Metro Police Department needs more diversity among its leadership and must work to improve trust with the community, especially among Black residents, a consulting firm said in a sweeping report of the department.

The city hired the Chicago firm Hillard Heintze last summer as daily protests raged in the streets over the police killing of Breonna Taylor. The city’s police chief had recently been fired and activists and Black community leaders were calling for criminal prosecution for the officers involved in the March shooting of Taylor.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical worker, was fatally shot by officers serving a narcotics warrant at her apartment. She was shot multiple times after Taylor’s boyfriend fired a single shot when her front door was forced open.

The 155-page report released Thursday was touted by Louisville’s mayor as a “top-to-bottom” review of the department and its practices. It calls for a “true transformation of the department.”

“Many of Louisville’s communities of color do not trust the police force due to generations of problematic relations,” the report said. “Additionally, many LMPD officers are unsure they want to be part of the department and are considering leaving policing altogether.”

The report found morale was at a low ebb in the department. A survey by the firm found that 75% of officers polled said they had considered leaving their job.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said many reforms have been enacted in the city since Taylor’s death, including a new city law that banned so-called “no knock” warrants. The warrants allow officers to enter a home without first announcing themselves. Louisville also hired a new police chief, former Atlanta chief Erika Shields, to lead the department.

The report found that Louisville police supervisors generally approved the probable cause statements in search warrants “without performing an in-depth review” of the content. At least one claim in the warrant used to enter Taylor’s home — that officers confirmed she was accepting packages for a suspected drug dealer — has been found to be false. The detective later admitted he did not confirm that part of the warrant with a postal inspector.