LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mayor Greg Fischer and leaders of the faith community announced new public safety steps in the wake of the officer-involved shooting of Breonna Taylor.
"We're going to do everything we can to channel the pain and anger of this moment into dialogue and work that will eventually help us heal," Mayor Fischer said.
Fischer announced two LMPD policy changes that will take effect, involving no-knock search warrants and body cameras.
No-knock search warrants have been called in to question, after the use of one was involved in Taylor's death.
In order to provide an "additional level of scrutiny," no-knock warrants will now require sign-off from the chief of police or his designee prior to going to a judge for approval.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad addressed Metro Council's budget committee Monday night, and said as it stands now, policy requires only a judge's signature of approval for the use of a no-knock search warrant.
"The FOP has no issue with that additional level of review for a warrant of that type," Ryan Nichols, River City FOP President, said.
Nichols, who leads LMPD's union, said he would find issue should the city move to ban no-knock warrants entirely.
"When appropriately used, no-knock warrants are a valuable tool for law enforcement and definitely shouldn't be banned," Nichols said. "No-knock warrants are already a small percentage of the overall number of warrants executed by law enforcement."
Chief Conrad echoed that statement Monday night, saying those warrants are "rarely" used by LMPD.
"The last two years we are seeing under 10 of them and less than five of them so far this year, but I have yet to verify the accuracy of that information," Conrad said.
Conrad is expected to speak to Metro Council's public safety committee Wednesday, where he will provide more information.
Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul also spoke out Monday, issuing a statement saying "No one should lose their life in pursuit of a crime without a victim and no knock warrants should be forbidden. Let's hope the investigation provides justice, he said.
LMPD is also updating its body camera policy to require that all sworn officers, including Narcotics officers, have body cameras available for serving warrants and other situations when they will be identifying themselves as police officers.
"The FOP also does not have a problem with that. I do understand that if they were trying to require them to wear them during day to day operations, that could present some other problems," Nichols said.
Fischer said LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit into the Breonna Taylor case will wrap up shortly. He said the findings will go to the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office, and the FBI this week for review.
“These external reviews are essential to ensure that the public has confidence in the findings of the investigation, whatever its findings maybe,” the Mayor said. “I also want to add that these agencies can seek more information if they see fit.”
"The police department wants answers, the community wants answers and I completely understand both sides of that. We have to understand in a complex investigation like this, it simply takes time," LMPD FOP President, Ryan Nichols said.
In partnership with the Metro Council, the Mayor’s Office will also establish a work group of community, public safety, and criminal justice leaders to engage in an independent civilian review of Taylor's case.
"This critical step will strengthen the relationship of trust and legitimacy between public safety officers and the people they serve and protect," Mayor Fischer said.
Members of the work group will be named later this week and the mayor said they will begin their work next week.
The Mayor’s Office will work with Metro Council to propose local legislation to help establish this process and will be in conversation with the General Assembly and the Governor as well if changes to state statutes are necessary.
“I’m glad we are able to create this task force with the administration to create a Civilian Review Board. The Metro Council started working on this legislation last year. In addition to asking the task force to work on the creation of a civilian review board, we will be asking them to review the possible creation of an Office of Inspector General,” said President David James, District 6.
Metro Council quotes in support:
Councilwoman Jessica Green, District 1
“It is my hope this task force will review all of the policies and procedures of LMPD and make recommendation that will help restore public confidence in the men and women who keep us safe. There are many options available to assist in a review of our local law enforcement. A Citizens Review Board is good not only for the public but will offer guidance in the future to make sure the right thing is done when enforcing the law.”
Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey, District 5
“Our communities are exhausted and tired, for years we have persevered under oppression and decades of bad policy and enforcement. This is a city where a street still determines your life expectancy and health outcomes. Working to establish trust within African American communities, but not limited to African Americans, is a long time coming. We all deserved to be treated the same, but what we deserve and what reality is not the same. Today is just one step and I would say a baby step, towards achieving and realizing the rights of life, liberty, and freedom for this community. It's sad to say, but even with 400 years of service to this country, we are citizens, but we are by no means are free.”
Councilwoman Paula McCraney, District 7
“As our country focuses on the devastation by the deaths of thousands of people due to COVID-19, we should not take our eyes off the potential pandemic of excessive force and brutality at the hands of some police officers. Given the disproportionate impact on people of color, drastic changes are needed in LMPD’s approach to public safety.”
Councilman Bill Hollander, District 9
“Oversight of police investigations is one way we can increase confidence in the police force, and we should all be looking to do that however we can. My expectation is that this group will study best practices - and bring them to Louisville. I am particularly interested in an Office of Inspector General, which can combine criminal justice experience not affiliated with the police department, truly independent review, and publicly-available reports.”
More on Breonna Taylor:
- Gov. Beshear calls Breonna Taylor's death troubling, says her family, Kentuckians deserve full facts
- 'If there’s areas for improvement or policy change, that will come out of this as well': Mayor Fischer ensures fairness in Breonna Taylor case
- Breonna Taylor shooting: Boyfriend's father says son was not a drug dealer
- LMPD: Breonna Taylor investigation almost complete, calls for FBI and US Attorney to review
- Photos show Breonna Taylor's home in aftermath of deadly shooting
- 'No-knock' search warrant says suspect used Breonna Taylor's apartment to ship drugs, prosecutor recuses himself in EMT's case