FRANKFORT, Ky. — Senate Republican Leadership says they want more dialogue with Gov. Andy Beshear over issues taking place in Louisville and want to be called back into session to address police reform.
“We are here to work with him to take his calls to listen to plan and to cooperate,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.
Members of leadership say they want to work with Beshear to solve the increasing violence and civil unrest in Louisville and help get the economy back on track.
“From an immediate standpoint, how can the state participate in lending its resources to keep Louisvillians safe during this really critical period, I think in the next two to three weeks,” said Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville.
Adams expressed concerns over safety at the Kentucky Derby and after an announcement on the Breonna Taylor investigation is made saying there have been “overt threats” made by groups to come and protest in the city.
Louisville has seen 104 homicides in 2020 and is on track to break the one-year record of 117 homicides, carjackings have also increased by over 400 percent.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, accused Beshear of turning a blind eye to the violence plaguing Kentucky’s largest city.
“The governor rarely addresses it in his daily briefings, it's almost as if by his silence that he's condoning this kind of behavior,” he said. "We don't condone any of the violent steps that some of these protests have taken, it's embarrassing, it's sad, it's tragic.”
Upon hearing the claims from Senate GOP at his daily coronavirus briefing Beshear seemed almost aghast at the notion.
"Apparently Senate leadership just said because I haven't talked about a carjacking in my press conference I condone carjacking and violence, absolutely not. I'm against all forms of violence,” he said.
Leadership also called on the governor to consider calling a special session to address police reform. Stivers said some of the topics could include a ban on no-knock warrants and changes to police tactics.
Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, has pre-filed a bill to ban no-knock warrants and Stivers is working on a measure to ban the practice as well, Beshear says he would be open to a special session if they can agree on legislation to pass during it.
"If we get something done. That's something that I'd certainly consider and I'm willing to work with anybody on legislation that's going to help move our world ahead and get us to a better place for everybody,” he said.
Republican leadership expressed concerns over Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s response to the events taken place in Louisville admonishing his presentation to lawmakers last week at the Interim Joint Committee on State Government.
“He gave a puppy dogs and rainbows presentation where he talked about Louisville is still a foodie town and full of bourbonism, I was struck by the fact that he did not address the wanton violence, property destruction, murders, and carjackings taking place in the city,” Thayer said. “It’s pretty hard for Louisville to be a foodie town and for bourbonism to thrive when downtown is boarded up.”
In a statement, Mayor Fischer says he appreciates the urgency from state lawmakers toward the issues that Louisville is facing, "It would be easy to describe today’s press conference as partisan politics, but the truth is, I think it’s reassuring to hear our state legislators offering support to Louisville,” he said.
Fischer also agreed with lawmakers a special session on police reform would be a good idea and even provided several issues for lawmakers to consider.
- Allow local jurisdictions to create Civilian Review Panels with subpoena power.
- Create a statewide officer-involved shooting investigative team to review all such incidents.
- Amend KRS 67C to increase accountability and transparency in law enforcement, including allowing police departments and public officials to discuss pending internal disciplinary cases.
- Ban the use of no-knock warrants statewide and require the use of body-worn cameras when executing all search warrants, just as Louisville Metro has done in adopting Breonna’s Law.
- Require all police departments to use body cameras, encourage transparency in the release of video, and provide state funding for the purchase of equipment and data storage.
- Support new laws, policies, and state funding streams to promote mental wellness among officers, including making it a crime to attempt to “blind” an officer with a “laser light device” and criminalizing the practice of “doxing” (maliciously publishing the personally identifying information of) a public official.
- Fund a new cadre of “first responders’ from the social work and mental health fields to work in concert with officers to handle many of the emergency responses where a sworn officer is not the best ‘first’ solution to aide a person(s) in need.
- Fund violence prevention and intervention efforts to interrupt the cycle of violence and engage youth in productive activities
- Ban the use of chokeholds, neck restraints, strangleholds, and weight on the subject’s necks unless necessary to save the life of an officer or another person. (This is current LMPD policy.)
- Require all police departments to train on de-escalation techniques, as LMPD does.
- Require officers to act to prevent or stop any member, regardless of rank or assignment, from using unlawful or excessive force; intervention may be verbal and/or physical. (Current LMPD policy.)
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles except in situations where officers are returning gunfire to save a human life or prevent a vehicle-ramming attack. (This is current LMPD policy.)
- Require comprehensive reporting and public release of documentation when officers use force.