Watch: Louisville holds first meeting of police oversight working group

Faith leaders, law enforcement representatives, community advocates and elected officials from across the Louisville community will be researching and recommending the best structure for a civilian review board


Police hold off protesters for Breonna Taylor, early Friday, May 29, 2020 in Louisville, Ky. Taylor, a black woman, was fatally shot by police in her home in March. Image: Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via AP

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James this week announced the names of 33 Louisvillians who have agreed to serve on a work group to research, debate and recommend the best structure for a Civilian Review Board that would add a new layer of independent review to Louisville Metro Police Department disciplinary matters.

The group’s members include faith leaders, law enforcement representatives, community advocates and elected officials from across the Louisville community.

Creating this new layer of review is a critical step in strengthening the relationship of trust and legitimacy between public safety officers and the people they serve and protect,” the Mayor said.

Council President James said: “I am glad to see the creation of a civilian review board. This creates additional layers of oversight for LMPD, which is desperately needed to restore community trust and to ensure the police are not simply investigating themselves. I’m looking forward to the work of the work group as they examine different models of Civilian Oversight including but not limited to Civilian Review Boards and an Office of Inspector General.”

The work group, to be co-chaired by Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney and Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen, will hold its kick-off meeting on Friday, virtually, as in-person gatherings are still limited due to the COVID-19. The public will be able to follow along via Facebook Live. (Full meeting can be viewed below.)

Hesen said her goal is “to see a frank discussion on how best to create a process that bolsters confidence in police and improves community relations, which together would heighten public safety overall.”

“It is an honor to serve the citizens of Louisville as co-chair on the Civilian Review Board work group. I look forward to working with a distinguished and diverse group of community leaders who are committed to recommending timely, actionable reforms to the LMPD and responsibilities of the current Citizens Commission on Police Accountability Board,” McCraney said. “The goal is to present the Metro Council with a working document that can be crafted into legislation that will build trust between the community and the police department.”

Mayor Fischer and President James will open Friday’s meeting by welcoming the group and outlining its goals. Faith Augustine, Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC), will outline the structure of the current Citizens Commission on Police Accountability and review other models being used across the country.

Members of the group then will be split among subgroups to study some of those models in preparation for a June 12 meeting to discuss and debate which of the models – or a hybrid model – would be best for Louisville.

After that discussion, the CJC will gather each subgroup’s presentation and information and draft a summary to be shared with the entire work group by the end of June. This summary will ultimately be provided to the Council, the Mayor and the County Attorney, who will work together on next steps, including the drafting of potential legislation to establish the new board.

The goal is to have a legislative proposal ready to file with Metro Council in July, as well as a plan to move forward with any state legislative agenda.

Next: How civilian oversight of police works in major U.S. cities