LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The scathing "pattern or practice" report released by the Department of Justice this week detailed widespread misconduct and violation of Constitutional rights by Louisville police. The DOJ and the city have agreed to a consent decree to make changes at LMPD.
Many local and state politicians voiced full-throated support for the DOJ's findings and consent decree, but Louisville's police union blasted the report as "unfair."
What You Need To Know
- Many local and state politicians voiced full-throated support for the DOJ's scathing report on LMPD, but Louisville's police union blasted the report as "unfair"
- Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Louisville Metro Government and LMPD “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law” in a 90-page report released Wednesday
- Freshman Congressman Morgan McGarvey said he fully supports the DOJ's consent decree that should "begin righting these harmful wrongs"
- Louisville's police union seemed to point the finger at previous Louisville Metro leadership as the chief reason for LMPD's problems that sparked the DOJ's investigation
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Louisville Metro Government and LMPD “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law.” The report said Louisville Police “discriminate against Black people in its enforcement activities,” uses excessive force and conducts searches based on invalid warrants, like the one used to justify the botched no-knock raid that killed Breonna Taylor.
Freshman Congressman Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) said he fully supports the DOJ's consent decree that should "begin righting these harmful wrongs."
"Excessive use of force and racial profiling in the Louisville Metro Police Department will continue to plague our community until we take decisive action to create true, lasting change. We simply cannot afford to wait," McGarvey said in a press release.
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg and former Mayor Greg Fischer, as well as activists within the community, also support the DOJ's plan to address issues with the city's police force. But Louisville's largest police union is at odds with the report.
The River City Fraternal Order of Police, in a statement sent to Spectrum News 1, blasted the DOJ's report as an "unfair assessment of the great work" done by "the vast majority of LMPD officers."
The FOP said, while no police department is without flaws, LMPD has protocols to address misconduct by officers detailed in the report and has used them to hold officers accountable. The union's statement also pointed the finger at previous Louisville Metro leadership as the chief reason for LMPD's problems that sparked the DOJ's investigation.
"Over a generation of irresponsible political leadership and failed leadership within LMPD, appointed by these administrations, have tarnished the image of what should be one of the premier law enforcement agencies in this country," the police union said in a statement.
The FOP also said the report "should not go unchallenged."
Garland went into specifics about what the investigation uncovered about officers saying, "Some have videotaped themselves throwing drinks at pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities and called Black people ‘monkeys,’ ‘animal,’ and ‘boy.’ This conduct is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking.”
Assistant Attorney General, Kristen Clarke, added, "Even when comparing traffic stops where Black and white drivers were engaged in similar behavior before the stop, Black drivers were almost 50% more likely to be searched than whites. LMPD charges Black people at higher rates than white people for the same misdemeanor offenses."
The DOJ has entered an agreement in principle with Louisville Metro and LMPD, which have committed to resolving the department’s findings through a court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor, rather than contested litigation.
In the official notice from the Justice Department, it finds LMPD:
- Uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers;
- Conducts searches based on invalid warrants;
- Unlawfully executes search warrants without knocking and announcing;
- Unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people during street enforcement activities, including traffic and pedestrian stops;
- Unlawfully discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities;
- Violates the rights of people engaged in protected free speech critical of policing; and
- Along with Louisville Metro, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.
The report listed 36 “remedial measures” that were needed, which include improving use-of-force and search warrant training, more consistent use of body cameras and better documentation of police interactions for more accountability.
It also called for better guidance on how to handle protests and said it should be easier for civilians to file complaints.
The consent decree will be filed in U.S. District Court, with an independent third-party monitor determining whether goals are being achieved.
Mayor Greenberg acknowledged change won’t happen overnight, saying, “we all understand this will take time and sustained effort. It will also take conversation and collaboration with our officers and staff, with their representatives and their union, and with the individuals, businesses and communities throughout our city that we all serve.”