LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Findings of an independent review of the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) were revealed Thursday, outlining "significant challenges" and a "clear roadmap" for addressing them.
What You Need To Know
- Months-long independent review of LMPD has been completed
- Hillard Heintze provided 102 recommendations for the department
- Report found disparities in arrest numbers and areas of inconsistency in training and leadership
- LMPD Chief Erika Shields said she'll commit to the findings of the report
Hillard Heintze, a Chicago-based security consulting company, conducted the top-to-bottom review of LMPD. Senior Vice President Robert Davis said the process began in July.
"[Louisville and LMPD] will need to overcome many challenges to establish the trust and collaboration necessary to ensure the LMPD’s policing services meet everyone’s goals and desires,” Davis said. “We are confident that the will and leadership exist within the LMPD to make this happen.”
Mayor Fischer agreed with many of the review's key findings.
“We have committed to reimagining public safety, and that requires an unflinching, comprehensive look at what LMPD is doing well, and what can be done better," Fischer said. "An independent audit like this is an extraordinarily valuable tool in making an organization better, and we plan to lean into the findings here – good and bad.”
The report found significant disparities in arrest numbers and areas of inconsistency in training and leadership.
“These are areas that demand our attention,” Fischer said. “It can be difficult to face up to our failings, but that’s exactly what we have to do, if we want to improve and move forward."
LMPD Chief Erika Shields said of the report: “It does us no good to try to sugarcoat it: We have challenges. We have work to do. And, we are going to do it, together.”
The 150-page report notes that LMPD has been near the center of the national spotlight on police behavior after the tragic death of Breonna Taylor last March, adding that many people of color don’t trust police officers “due to generations of problematic relations.
In addition, it found many LMPD officers are unsure they want to continue their career path. Davis said these are challenges that police departments across the country are facing, and his team is “confident” LMPD can overcome them.
“Our experience has shown us that even when facing significant operational difficulties and a critical need to rebuild community trust, agencies that embrace our recommendations succeed in building that trust and raising their level of professionalism in line with some of the most progressive police departments in the country,” Davis said. “With the leadership provided by Chief Erika Shields and others, we fully expect that in the next few years, policing agencies across the country will turn to the LMPD to learn how to make such positive operational changes.”
Since late July, Hillard Heintze pored over data and statistics, conducted interviews and reviewed LMPD’s policies, procedures, protocols and training on the use of force, de-escalation, search and arrest warrants, crisis intervention, crowd control, community-oriented policing, bias-free policing, and procedural justice.
The report noted several areas where LMPD is aligned with or leading on national best practices, including its de-escalation training and use-of-force continuum, which have led to a reduction in use-of-force incidents, as well as fewer injuries to residents and officers.
Hillard Heintze was selected for the review in collaboration with Metro Council President David James.
Fischer praised Hillard Heintze for its work to engage the community in the review process, including a community survey that drew 7,805 responses. Hillard Heintze representatives also made several onsite visits, conducting interviews, observing training, and participating in ride-alongs with officers.
“Community involvement was key, because we believe public safety is something we co-produce,” Fischer said, while pledging to share regular progress reports with the community to ensure transparency and accountability.
“Let’s keep in mind that LMPD employs about 1,100 police officers, sworn to serve and protect about 770,000 people. That’s more than 700 people for every one police officer. So, it’s clear that reimagining public safety does not stop with this report," Fischer added.
“As I’ve said before: We face a choice today, and it’s not about Black vs. white, or demonstrators vs. police. It’s about the past vs. the future. One we can’t change, and one we will– by working together,” he said. “America’s eyes have been on Louisville for months now. So, let’s show the nation what we can do. Let’s come together and be that American city that takes itself from tragedy to transformation. Together.”