LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the third time in as many months, Mayor Greg Fischer has announced another change for the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Interim chief Robert Schroeder, who took over when Steven Conrad was fired in June, announced his retirement effective October 1.
Mayor Fischer went outside of LMPD's immediate ranks to find the next interim chief, but also found someone with a great deal of experience with the force. Yvette Gentry served more than 20 years with LMPD including as Deputy Chief from 2011 until 2014 when she retired. Gentry also served as the city's Chief of Community Building from 2015 until 2017.
Gentry is currently with Metro United Way and the Rajon Rondo Foundation. She is taking a leave of absence from these posts to serve as chief until a permanent police chief is hired.
She becomes the first woman to ever lead the LMPD in its 200-plus year history. Gentry did not apply for the permanent position and says she has no interest in doing so.
“I am taking a pause from positions that have provided me time to heal and enjoy my family,” Gentry said. “I am returning to the high-stress law-enforcement field in large part to help lead a call to action for those willing to do the work it takes to heal our city – and provide truth so we can have reconciliation, and create a system of justice rooted in equity.”
During the news conference where she was introduced, Gentry became emotional about her decision to return to work with the city.
"I stand here today against the wise counsel of the people who love me, there is no search for a new mother and for a high school sweetheart and their main concern is my health. "
Gentry is a breast cancer survivor who has been cancer-free since 2016.
She was very open about her plans to join LMPD.
"It's been 6 years since I walked into the chief's office. I have to re-immerse myself...I don't have a great plan. I am a leader and I know how to lead. I don't want this process to be rushed. I did not apply to be the permanent chief for several reasons"
The Mayor said he’s also deeply appreciative of Gentry’s willingness to take on this interim role.
“Yvette brings the unparalleled experience and strong community relationships needed to lead LMPD until a permanent Chief is in place,” the Mayor said, “and she is passionate about working to help her city address systemic racism and reimagine public safety. She has never been shy about offering her advice, and I look forward to having her on the team as we move forward in selecting a permanent Chief.”
Gentry will work with Chief Schroeder on Sept. 14 to make sure there is a smooth transition before his retirement on Oct. 1 and she is named interim Chief. Schroeder said of Gentry "I leave knowing the department is in capable hands. I've known Yvette my entire police career. She is the right person to lead this department."
Gentry's contract with the city will not exceed six months and she will be paid $18,000 a month.
Schroeder agreed to take the interim position for four months and plans to concentrate on completing his doctorate while spending more time with his family and concentrating on his health.
Schroeder said, "I am grateful to have had this opportunity to serve the city and the police department that I love. I am deeply proud of the men and women of LMPD, and how committed they are to keeping our city and our residents safe.”
Fischer thanked Schroeder for his time in office saying, "Rob came into this role as a reformer and innovator, having led the implementation of police body cameras and the creation of the Real-Time Crime Center, and continued that path of reform as interim Chief – helping implement Breonna’s Law, new rules on duty to intervene, restrictions on use of force and tear gas, and moving to more quickly clear a backlog of internal investigations.
“I greatly appreciate Rob’s commitment to our city,” the Mayor added, “and I know some city will be very lucky to have him as police chief when he is ready to pursue that role on a permanent basis.”
Fischer said more than 20 people applied for the chief's position before the Aug. 31 application deadline.
The search is being conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based police research organization known for helping cities across the country on issues such as reducing police use of force; developing community policing and problem-oriented policing; using technology to deliver police services to the community, and evaluating crime reduction strategies.
Metro Government also received input from more than 10,000 people who responded to an online survey about the qualities they would like to see in Louisville's next chief and there were also focus groups throughout the community to allow residents to share their thoughts on the next chief.
The next steps in the hiring process include working with PERF to review, vet, and sort the applicants, based on how their qualifications line up with those that the community helped create. A small group will then convene to review the list, narrow it, conduct interviews, and identify top candidates who appear best suited to lead the LMPD. That process will also involve the community and LMPD by incorporating the input previously collected, as well as an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. Anyone interested in suggesting interview questions can email them to LouisvilleChiefQuestions@policeforum.org.
Mayor Fischer is expected to name the new permanent Chief by the end of the year.