The Louisville Metro Council approved an ordinance to place the Louisville Metro Police Department under the watch of an inspector general and civilian review board.
According to the Courier-Journal, the newly established board will consist of 11 members who will work alongside the inspector general. Through a majority vote, the board can authorize the inspector general to investigate police complaints. Additionally, the board will be able to look over police reports for quality and accuracy, as well as completed internal affairs investigations into police killings. The board will not be able to discipline police officers, as that power rests solely with the police chief.
The ordinance, which passed through a 25-1 vote, came as Louisville citizens have continuously protested against police violence and systemic racism over the last 170 days. The protests began after Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by a group of Louisville Metro Police officers in March. Despite an internal investigation revealing multiple errors committed by the LMPD in the lead-up to the shooting, only one officer has been fired, and no charges have been filed in relation to her death.
Over the last five months, 33 representatives within the community researched, debated, and drafted the legislation. The ordinance requires members of the board to complete 24 hours of ride-along training with the LMPD, 16 hours of classroom training, and to have been a resident in Jefferson County for at least 180 days.
Retired or former law enforcement officers can be on the board, but three years must have passed since their retirement, and only one can serve as a member at a time. Board members cannot have any association, whether through family or friendship, with law enforcement.
The mayor will appoint members of the board with Metro Council approval, but the applicant pool is limited:
- Three positions will be chosen from a list recommended by the Metro Council.Two positions will be chosen from citizens’ self-nominations.Two positions will be at the mayor’s discretion.Four positions will be selected from names recommended by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Greater Louisville Inc., the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition, the Louisville branch of the NAACP, the Urban League, the Louisville Bar Association, Young Professionals Association of Louisville and the University of Louisville’s public health chair for candidates with expertise in mental health and substance abuse.
The inspector general will be responsible for establishing policies, procedures, training, and staffing protocols. Under the ordinance, a search committee will be established to nominate the inspector general who will serve an initial four-year term.
Upon review by the board and approval from the Metro Council, the mayor would be able to reappoint the inspector general for up to two consecutive terms. The inspector general will undergo 16 hours of police training and 40 hours of ride-along time.
While it’s not required for the inspector general to have a background in law enforcement, they would need to have extensive experience conducting civil, criminal, or fact-based investigations. Should it be approved by the state legislature, the inspector general would have the power to subpoena witnesses and administer oaths while conducting investigations.
The newly established board will replace the Citizens’ Commission on Police Accountability. Established in 2003, the commission could review closed cases but didn’t have the power to enact meaningful change, essentially being a symbolic board more than anything.
Councilman Scott Reed (R-16th District) said that a lack of transparency and communication has been the source of years of distrust in the LMPD. He’s hopeful that the civilian review board might help change that.
“I hope this is the dawn of a new era when it comes to trust with the police force,” Reed told the Courier-Journal.