Police Chief’s resignation is Louisville’s chance to radically change – Courier-Journal

By |2022-12-05T06:45:14-05:00December 5th, 2022|A Path Forward, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

As Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg  prepares to transition into office, we recognize that he is doing so at a very contentious, yet historically significant moment in our city’s story. Contentious in large part because of what a global pandemic and the killings of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee have exposed–what many of us already knew and have warned about for decades. What has been laid bare is that the disparate and discriminatory policies of this city are not just harmful to Black, brown and marginalized communities, but to every citizen, because when you erode the rights and dignity of some, you are tearing away at the foundations of every institution in existence. Investigation after investigation has shown this truth to be evident in no place more than the Louisville Metro Police Department. With the announcement of Chief Shields’ resignation, there is an opportunity to move forward in a radically new direction–one that works for all community members and officers. We want to go “all in” with the Greenberg  administration to make Louisville “safer, stronger and healthier.” We want practical laws that fit today's realities and are equitably enforced. We want order that is rooted in the needs of the community and reflects the voices of those most impacted. And we also want our communities to be free of crime; however, we do not believe that freedom can come from rogue policing, hyper surveillance, state-sanctioned violence or the absence of transparency and accountability. But those things no longer have to be our reality. Although police reform was not a part of the Greenberg campaign’s public plan, the upcoming hire of the next Police Chief for Louisville Metro offers possibilities that could benefit all constituents. We expect that process to be open, transparent and inclusive of the diversity of our community–particularly those most impacted by policing. Additionally, the following recommendations should be the issues that a new police chief is supportive of and willing to implement. While not an exhaustive list, these immediate and long-term strategies will substantially change the perception and culture of LMPD. More:With Erika Shields out, how will Craig Greenberg pick Louisville's next police chief?Reevaluate and replace command staff membersHire a chief who agrees to reevaluate and replace command staff members. If you informally ask honest, socially-conscious members of the LMPD to describe the root of racism within LMPD culture, you will likely hear the phrase “good ol’ boys.” The colloquialism describes the complicated history of policing and promotion that rewards assimilation to an outdated brand of thinking over merit. This network of antiquated thinkers has an inordinate amount of power in the police force, and their attitudes shape the communication, thoughts and actions of other officers. We hope that the new chief will have the objectivity and fortitude to identify cancerous members of the command staff for the threat they pose to both the department and the community at large, and perform an immediate biopsy. Invest in proven community violence intervention strategies In A Path Forward for Louisville, we demanded investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging and harming of Black people. We have also united with the business community in calling for investments in group violence intervention strategies, like No More Red Dots, a program run by Dr. Eddie Woods. A good Police Chief should understand and champion these investments as well, understanding that a reallocation of funds from policing and incarceration to long-term safety strategies such as local restorative justice services and education and employment programs are not a threat, but a boon to the very work they have committed themselves to. Eliminate three-day, 12-hour shifts What Louisville needs from its police force is empathy and thoughtfulness, which are dependent on adequate rest. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed that sleep deprivation among police officers leads to negative health and performance outcomes. Fatigue should not be a contributor to poor performance for those who are called to protect and serve. The new chief of police should create a schedule that ensures that officers are the best versions of themselves when they interact with the public. More:Reset or status quo: How Louisville's next police chief could reshape departmentExpand and improve the Crisis Intervention Team The city’s current Crisis Intervention Team seems woefully underfunded and underprepared for the monumental tasks ahead of them. Mental illness skyrocketed during the pandemic and our jails are full of people who would be better served by mental health professionals. Confusing mental health for criminality is costing valuable lives and taxpayers’ money, as it is more expensive to repeatedly arrest and house an “offender” than it is to assess and treat a person in need of mental healthcare. The Crisis Intervention Team should be trained and available to de-escalate mental health crises in culturally-responsive ways that don’t make residents pay the ultimate price (their freedom or their lives) for their human responses to stress and subjugation. The Greenberg campaign mentioned the 4th Division’s pilot program in  their public safety plan, but the current pilot program where mental health professionals are sent by MetroSafe rather than police was poorly executed and done in secret. The program should be redone with transparency and also be fully funded with money from the police budget.Hire civilian staff for traffic control We know that although Black Louisville is only 20% of the population, Black people account for 53% of the searches that begin with traffic stops. We do not believe we can extract bias from all officers who police our city. What we can do is break the relationships between simple traffic control, the war on drugs and the unnecessary risks of bodily harm or indignity to ordinary citizens. When traffic control is delegated to civilian staff, there will be less likelihood of “misunderstandings” becoming deadly for citizens. Don’t hire ex-cops with recordsImmediately institute policies that prevent the hiring of former police who have either been fired for or are currently under investigation for official misconduct and personal misconduct (EPO/ DVO). If better policy were in place, Brett Hankinson would never have been at Breonna Taylor’s door on that fateful March morning in 2020. The department in Lexington had already fired him. A more strict policy may have saved Breonna’s life and it most certainly would have prevented other citizens from falling victim to his misdeeds and the misconduct of others. When relocation is the only consequence for abuse of power, there is no real motivation for reform. We should not have to eat the bad apples other cities have marked as poison. A better policy would require self-reporting of past disciplinary actions. Officers who omit or misrepresent their past disciplinary actions should be fired immediately. More:Louisville created a group to hold police accountable. LMPD isn't letting them workRevamp officer trainingRevamp all officer training and implement immediate retraining of officers who accrue disciplinary complaints from the public or supervisors. Police training is a fundamental part of how officers come to understand and come to engage the communities they serve. Officers should receive training from external, non-law-enforcement facilitators who can help properly contextualize the work and its connections to Louisville’s complicated history of slavery, apartheid (Jim Crow) and state-sanctioned violence against Black people; all the way through the present-day redlined and disinvested communities they patrol today. The same history Black residents have to learn for their own survival is one that white Louisvillians can afford to ignore. Officers who work in Louisville need to know that they are stepping into a tradition that began with the “retrieval” of human “property.” Understanding this history could be the foundation of empathy for citizens whose distrust of the police begins on the epigenetic level. Officers should be trained in this specific, local history because the national history is often dismissed as “liberal whining.” Our city is under too much pressure to tolerate such ignorance. Additionally, LMPD records of individual disciplinary action are evidence that not all people learn at the same rate. Perhaps the officers with the worst records are not (simply) bad people; maybe they learn differently. In “all in,” Greenberg  suggested that Louisville should improve programs to stop repeat offenders. “Our jail sees too many ‘familiar faces,’” he  wrote. At the Urban League, we feel a similar frustration about the familiarity of bad actors in the police department. Just as the plan emphasizes skills training and improved programming for civilian repeat offenders, we suggest retraining officers whose interactions with the public indicate that they did not understand their first round of education in LMPD’s best practices. Retraining officers may be expensive, but a WDRB investigative report recently found that the city has paid about $40,000,000 in settlements since 2017 and subsequently lost its excess insurance provider. Retraining has to be less expensive than this. To incentivize better retention of lessons–and to recoup the money the county will spend on extended training, we believe that the officers’ rate of pay should go back to training level pay during the retraining period. The road ahead is not an easy one. Leading a department with multiple FBI investigations, a proven culture of corruption and misconduct, pending litigation, several settled suits and waning morale is not a desirable job. Additionally, the local Fraternal Order of Police is a regular barrier to progress as a vocal few consistently double down on harmful and divisive rhetoric and bad policies. Yet, there is an opportunity to make transformative changes to LMPD–catalytic changes in the restoration of integrity for LMPD. Changes that will show the city’s citizens and the world that policing can be different while still protecting the city and its people. We believe this list of priorities is a start to setting the stage for better behavior for LMPD officers and safe communities for everyone. Though we have been in this place before and left disappointed at the outcome, we are hopeful for this opportunity for wholesale change. Kish Cumi Price, Ph.D. is president and CEO of Louisville Urban League

Louisville's Black leaders urge unity as anniversary of Breonna Taylor's death approaches

By |2022-03-12T09:37:08-05:00March 12th, 2022|A Path Forward, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, Election 2020|

As the second anniversary of Breonna Taylor's death nears, Black leaders from Louisville disussed community, politics, racial healing and mobilization Friday night.The talk was part of a series of events sponsored by Justice 4 Louisville and the Breonna Taylor Foundation this weekend, which will also include a free concert Saturday and a nationwide balloon release in Taylor's memory Sunday.March 13 marks the second anniversary of the death of Taylor, a 26-year-old unarmed Black woman who was killed by Louisville Metro Police in her home while they were serving a search warrant.Panelists included two of the city's mayoral candidates:The Rev. Tim Findley, founder of the Justice and Freedom Coalition,And Shameka Parrish-Wright, a prominent social justice activist and co-chair of the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist;Newly elected state Rep. Keturah Herron, D-42nd District;Metro Councilman Jecorey Arthur, D-4th District;Tracy Davis, an attorney running for Jefferson County District Court judge in District 3;Lonita Baker, an attorney that represented Taylor's family in the civil lawsuit and president of the Charles W. Anderson Jr. Bar Association;And Sadiqa Reynolds, president of the Louisville Urban League.The discussion was moderated by Nicole Hayden, a local social justice activist and business owner.Related: Editorial: Louisville not finished seeking justice for Breonna TaylorHere are key takeaways from the discussion:Black Louisvillians need to unite and engage in politicsArthur, the youngest Metro Council member in Louisville's history, said no single politician has ever saved anyone and encouraged people to get involved in politics. "It took masses of Black people, some enslaved and some free, and their allies to abolish slavery. It took masses of Black people throughout the '50s and '60s and their allies to abolish segregation, to abolish Jim Crow. It took masses of Black people throughout 2020 and our allies to get no-knock warrants banned. It's never just about one single person."He and others at Friday's panel said Black people often are divided. Findley attributes some of that division to trauma in the Black community."Nothing can get done if I don't have the community behind me," Arthur said.Reynolds said Black people have to learn to move differently. Other communities, other faiths and other races stick together, she said."We have got to figure out a way — on the stuff where we can — to find a way to use our power together so we can actually move the needle," She said. "We have been so divided sometimes we can't get things done."Diverse representation is needed to improve livesDavis, who is running for a District Court judgeship, said people in positions of power, especially in the criminal justice system, need to understand what people of different cultures, races and socioeconomic statuses go through.“We all have, believe it or not, have unconscious bias. Every single person," she said.Herron, who won their seat during a special election last month, is the first LGBTQ member of the Kentucky House of Representatives. One of Herron's priorities is to create an office of gun violence to address gun violence, suicide prevention, child abuse and domestic violence.Awash in Guns:‘It’s real easy to get a gun’ in Louisville. And it’s costing livesAnother focus is restoring the voting rights of those with felony convictions and getting young people out to vote.In June 2020, following the deaths of Taylor and David McAtee at the hands of police and National Guard, Black leaders in Louisville published A Path Forward for Louisville, a petition that outlines solutions to systemic problems and racial disparities in Louisville.Reynolds, representing the Urban League, said the group of leaders still meet every Friday to discuss jobs, justice, education, health and housing for Black people.Here's what they've been working on:Increasing the number of Black-owned business owners by helping start-ups with infrastructure, marketing, businesses plans and access to capital. The group is working with Amplify Louisville, a business organization that helps small startups. Paying for intensive tutoring services in math and reading for children whose families can't afford it. Increasing social and emotional support for individuals by working with mental health providers so they can take insurance. Reynolds said anxiety, depression and suicides are increasing. "There's so much pain in our community," she said. The group helped sponsor a community mental health day this month.Building and rehabbing 15 houses for rent.Kala Kachmar is an investigative reporter. Reach her at 502-582-4469; kkachmar@courierjournal.com or @NewsQuip on Twitter. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/subscribe.

3 things to know about the Path Forward plan to create a more equitable Louisville

By |2021-07-20T06:47:38-04:00July 20th, 2021|A Path Forward, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

In June 2020, following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee at the hands of police and National Guard, respectively, Black leaders in Louisville published A Path Forward for Louisville, a petition that outlines changes and solutions to systemic problems and racial disparities in Louisville.Here are three things to know about the document:What changes did the document call for?A Path Forward called for a variety of changes — from police reform, to support for Black business owners, to revamped educational policies, to more affordable housing in the West End.The document referenced the “long and challenging history LMPD has had with Louisville’s Black community” and sought to divest from policing and invest in other first responders, such as social workers, and also create a more diverse — both in race and gender — police force, among other suggested changes.It also called for JCPS to use newly raised money to “increase equity initiatives” and aimed to create a “pipeline of Black educators.”The document further called for “expanded mental health support.” A Path Forward, a year later:How has Louisville responded to racial justice petition?What financial investment does it seek?The document seeks to create a $50 million Black Community Fund “to begin the process of addressing systemic racism in our community.” Framers had hoped the city would fund the $50 million, but it has not, which Lyndon Pryor, the Louisville Urban League’s Chief Engagement Officer, called “a constant disappointment.”The fund has raised some money from donations, however, which have gone to community learning hubs, a business incubator and affordable housing efforts.Who is does it target as needing to act?The petition was addressed to Metro Council President David James and Mayor Greg Fischer, who said the document has informed his administration’s thinking of city priorities. The document also listed Gov. Andy Beshear, other government leaders, Jefferson County Public Schools, financial institutions and many other organizations as needing to act, as well as “you,” the individual resident.Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League and one of the framers of the document, said the document has been largely well received.“I think there are a lot of organizations that are looking to the document to determine how they move forward,” she said.Hayes Gardner can be reached at hgardner@gannett.com; Twitter: @HayesGardner.

How Louisville organizations have changed after Breonna Taylor’s death

By |2021-07-10T15:25:10-04:00July 10th, 2021|A Path Forward, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee|

Louisville organizations have given money to help Black businesses, opened medical services in underserved areas and raised awareness about racism. Source: How Louisville organizations have changed after Breonna Taylor's death

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