August 10, 2023

Louisville police chief: No further investigations or discipline for officers highlighted in DOJ report

Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel announced Thursday the outcome of her review of the incidents highlighted in the DOJ report. - Roberto Roldan
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LPM

Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel announced Thursday the outcome of her review of the incidents highlighted in the DOJ report.

Roberto Roldan / LPM

Louisville Public Media | By Roberto Roldan

Louisville Metro Police Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel announced Thursday there will be no additional investigations or disciplinary action taken against officers whose alleged misconduct was highlighted in the U.S. Department of Justice’s scathing report earlier this year.

The DOJ's report, which looked at incidents that occurred between 2016 and 2021, concluded that LMPD engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional policing and discrimination against Black residents. The report also faulted department leadership for routinely failing to investigate and discipline obvious misconduct.

Gwinn-Villaroel said though there will be no further action against officers included in the report, LMPD is committed to addressing the systemic failures the DOJ identified.

“My success is not to be measured on the amount of discipline imposed, but by creating a culture for officers who are well-trained and supervised with clear expectations and values,” Gwinn-Villaroel said.

The police department also announced the release of approximately 50 hours of body camera footage associated with the incidents in the DOJ report. LMPD created a website in May that lists each incident, along with any reports or investigations.

Of the 62 examples of alleged misconduct highlighted by the DOJ, Gwinn-Villaroel said LMPD had already investigated more than 30 cases and issued discipline, including termination, in nearly 20 cases. That means there are roughly 30 incidents for which officers will not be investigated or disciplined.

 

Some of the cases that were never formally investigated include an incident in which an officer repeatedly struck a woman in the face with his flashlight after she bit his boot that was placed on her chest, and a number of cases where officers allegedly used dangerous neck restraints on people who posed no threat.

Gwinn-Villaroel indicated that some of LMPD’s policies in place at the time the alleged misconduct occurred did not “foster better oversight.” She said under policy changes the department made recently, some of the officers’ actions highlighted in the report could have warranted discipline. Some officers also resigned or retired before an investigation could be launched.

“Those days are over,” she said. “I’m holding my supervisors accountable for how they are overseeing their employees. I’m stressing to them that we want our police officers to have lasting careers.”

Mayor Craig Greenberg said Thursday that LMPD officers have a number of due process protections under Kentucky’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights and the collective bargaining agreement between the city and police union, the River City FOP. Some of the officers mentioned in the DOJ report have received “severe discipline” for other acts of misconduct not included in the report, Greenberg said.

“What we’re talking about today is another step in the process of reforming and improving LMPD,” he said. “There will be many more.”

Louisville Metro is currently negotiating a consent decree with the DOJ that will serve as a roadmap for future reform. The consent decree will outline dozens of changes to policies and training, and the city’s progress will be overseen by a federal judge.

Police and city officials did not provide an update Thursday on when they expect negotiations will be complete.

 

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