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Metro Newsroom

Abramson and White Unveil Police Reform Plan

Wednesday February 12, 2003

Abramson, White Unveil Police Reform Plan

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (February 12, 2003) – Mayor Jerry Abramson and Police Chief Robert C. White today announced a sweeping police reform plan that will change use-of-force policies, increase training for police officers and create new citizens panels to hold police accountable for their actions.

The reforms are designed to better protect citizens and officers, provide citizens with a greater voice and improve public confidence in the police department.

The five-point reform plan includes:

· Revising police policies and training in use of force cases;
· Changing the investigation process for police shooting cases and allegations of criminal wrongdoing by police;
· Creating a Citizens Commission on Police Accountability for greater citizen involvement in police shooting cases and incidents involving loss of life due to police action;
· Restoring an independent Citizens Advocate to help citizens file complaints against officers; and
· Finalizing creation of a new Louisville Metro Police Merit Board to consider appeals by both officers and citizens of the Chief’s disciplinary actions.

“These changes will not bring back lost lives. They will not restore ruined careers,” Abramson said. “But these reforms are honest and hopeful efforts to create a better, safer, more accountable system for both police officers and citizens.”

Details of changes in the police department include:

· A clear policy that all officers must carry non-lethal weapons such as batons or pepper spray, while on duty;
· Increased training for officers in areas such as use of force, cultural diversity and ethics-based decision making;
· An analysis of use-of-force cases in the past three years to determine if trends exist that point to needed changes;
· Development of a Public Integrity Unit, a separate group of veteran police managers with extensive investigative experience, to conduct on-scene investigations in police shooting incidents.

“These changes in the police department – its structure, policy, procedures and training – will make all of us more accountable to this community,” White said. “But more importantly, these changes will better protect the brave people who wear the badge and the citizens we are sworn to serve.” Abramson said his citizen engagement initiatives will give people throughout the community a much greater voice than ever before in police matters. “Our plan directly involves citizens in reviewing and recommending changes in police policies, procedures, training and discipline,” Abramson said.

Details of the citizen engagement changes:

Citizens Commission on Police Accountability – a diverse group of 11 citizens appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Metro Council to review investigations in all police shooting cases and incidents involving loss of life due to police action.

Abramson nominated Laura Douglas, general counsel and vice president of the Louisville Water Co. and a former state Public Protection Cabinet secretary, to head the group.

The mayor asked citizens interested in serving or nominating people to serve on the panel to send resumes to him by Feb. 21. (E-mail or write to Mayor Jerry Abramson, ATTN: Citizens Commission, Louisville Metro Hall, 527 W. Jefferson St., Louisville, KY 40202.)

Louisville Metro Police Merit Board –a new board composed of five citizens and two police officers to consider the Chief’s discipline of police officers and provide oversight for hiring, firing, promotions and demotions. The new board will for the first time allow citizens throughout the new Louisville as well as police officers to appeal the Chief’s disciplinary actions. I

ndependent Citizens Advocate – return the police ombudsman to the Human Relations Commission to restore independence and assist citizens in filing complaints against police officers. Abramson said the search is underway for a person to fill the position.
Abramson said that the reform plan outlined is “an aggressive, responsible and workable approach to addressing the concerns and needs that people across this community have identified in recent weeks and months.”

“I ask everyone to give this new approach a chance to work,” Abramson said. “I truly believe that all people of good faith want Louisville to be a place where police officers and the citizens they serve work together, hand in hand, to make our hometown the safest it can be.”