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Audit Finds LMPD In ‘Crisis,’ Recommends Broad Changes

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An independent review shows the Louisville Metro Police Department needs to improve on a number of measures including relationships with communities of color, low morale and leadership consistency in order to better serve the city, Mayor Greg Fischer said Thursday.

Fischer ordered the audit, conducted by Chicago-based Hillard Heintze, to examine everything from police interactions with the public to training policies. The findings were released Thursday, and a letter accompanying the report stated: “Our principal finding is that the LMPD and communities across the Louisville Metro area are in crisis. The Department needs to make major changes — some immediately.”

The audit was one of the city’s responses to the shooting death by police of Breonna Taylor, subsequent mass protests, and the National Guard’s fatal shooting of David McAtee, an incident that involved LMPD officers.

Fischer has touted the review as one aspect of the city’s commitment to hold the department accountable and build trust with community members. He has said the results will form the basis for changes within LMPD.

City leadership — from Fischer to Metro Council — proceeded with some reforms in 2020 and is hoping state lawmakers will grant them the power to take on others this year. So far this session, the Kentucky legislature has not taken up those issues. Some of the reforms were promised in a record $12 million settlement with Taylor’s family last September.

Fischer expressed his confidence in the audit during a news briefing Thursday addressing the results of the analysis.

“Some of the findings, frankly, can be hard to take,” Fischer said. “But the nature of an audit…is to expose gaps so that we can address that.”

He said denial is not a strategy. He also said the review found LMPD matches national best practices in some areas.

LMPD’s new police chief, Erika Shields, said Louisville police officers need to be more open to feedback and criticism.

In an interview with WFPL earlier this week, she said officers can be defensive, and sometimes that happens because they’re fatigued.

“My goal is to say, regardless of where you’ve been, at this point moving forward we have an obligation to accept the feedback, whether it’s the Hillard Heintze report — there’s going to be a comprehensive review of LMPD — whether it’s disciplinary findings,” she said. “We need to own the missteps. We need to own it, we need to acknowledge it, and we need to understand that accountability at its core means we don’t rationalize our behavior.”

Public safety chief Amy Hess said during the Thursday briefing that the report includes 102 recommendations for LMPD. Read the full document here.

This story will be updated.

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