Louisville police department is a work in progress

The Louisville police are supposed to serve and protect people, including Black people, but it is hard to believe that since many of cops have little respect for them. 

Some police officers routinely referred to Blacks as “animals,” and “monkeys, and addressed Black men as “boy.” They also tossed drinks at their cars and insulted people with disabilities. 

And that’s just for openers. The negative investigatory findings were many and all were damning.

  • LMPD (Louisville PD) uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers.
  • LMPD unlawfully conducts searches based on invalid warrants.
  • LMPD unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people during street enforcement activities, including traffic and pedestrian stops.
  • LMPD violates the rights of people engaged in protected free speech critical of policing.
  • Louisville Metro and LMPD discriminate against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.

The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into LMPD and Louisville Metro was sparked by the killing of Breonna Taylor in the South End apartment she shared with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. The police were acting on a no-knock search warrant.

Seven cops stormed the couple’s apartment in the middle of the night on March 13, 2020, killing Taylor who was shot six times by Myles Cosgrove, a former detective.

Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, believing the officers were intruders, fired one warning shot toward the ground from his licensed gun.

The prosecution alleged that Mr. Walker’s bullet hit Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly in the leg, however, according to a ballistics report, the bullet that struck Sergeant Mattingly was neither “identified nor eliminated as having been fired” from Mr. Walker’s gun, according to the Legal Defense Fund.  

Walker was charged with assault and attempted murder of a police officer, but the charges were dismissed with prejudice 12 months later. 

On September 15, the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million and reform police practices.

Louisville Metro, the police department, agreed to pay $2 million on Monday to Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend. 

The raid set off protest demonstrations worldwide. I live in Chicago, and I still see Breonna Taylor posters in store windows in my neighborhood.

The department has 1,000 officers covering both urban and suburban locations. Some 81 percent are White, and 14 percent are Black. More than 87 percent are men and 13 percent are women. 

Data from the Louisville police department shows that from 2016 to 2021, police stopped Black drivers at 1.5 times the rate of White drivers. Police also searched Black drivers’ cars during traffic stops at 2.6 times the rate of White drivers.

LMPD charges Black citizens at higher rates than White people for misdemeanor offenses which cops have wide discretion over whether or not to charge someone. 

For example, LMPD charges Black people for loitering at more than 4 times the rate for White people.   In addition, Blacks were charged 3 times the rate for littering compared with Whites.

Louisville Metro and the LMPD have not waited to make changes. Since 2020, the department has banned no-knock search warrants and started a program to send behavioral and health professionals to some 911 calls and to support cops’ health and wellness.