DOJ Investigation Finds Louisville Metro Police, Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Govt ‘Engage’ in Unconstitutional Practices

By Gracy Joslin

LOUISVILLE, KY – The U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Office released a statement Wednesday confirming its investigation has found the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government (Louisville Metro) “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”

Louisville Police were involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville officers, although the report explicitly acknowledges this week’s findings to be “…separate from the department’s criminal cases against former LMPD officers for federal crimes related to the tragic death of Breonna Taylor.”

According to a statement by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, “The Justice Department has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Metro and LMPD engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional rights of the residents of Louisville,” and condemned these “patterns” as “unacceptable” and “unconstitutional.”

Further, the DOJ said it has “entered an agreement” with LMPD and is committed to responding with a “court-enforceable consent decree with an independent monitor, rather than contested litigation.”

The following list is a direct, word for word, list of LMPD’s unlawful patterns of behavior included in the DOJ statement;

  • “Uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers;
  • “Conducts searches based on invalid warrants;
  • “Unlawfully executes search warrants without knocking and announcing;
  • “Unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people during street enforcement activities, including traffic and pedestrian stops;
  • “Unlawfully discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities;
  • “Violates the rights of people engaged in protected free speech critical of policing; and
  • Along with Louisville Metro, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.”

The list does not include all findings of the LMPD’s unlawful behavior.

For instance, the DOJ statement claimed to additionally have found “deficiencies in LMPD’s response to and investigation of domestic violence and sexual misconduct, including its responses to allegations that LMPD officers engaged in sexual misconduct or domestic violence.”

The DOJ report also acknowledged, “Deficiencies in policies, training, supervision, and accountability [which] contribute to LMPD and Louisville Metro’s unlawful conduct.”

AG Garland added, “This unacceptable and unconstitutional conduct erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing. It is also an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line to serve Louisville with honor. And it is an affront to the people of Louisville who deserve better.”

“The findings are deeply troubling and sobering, and they compromise LMPD’s ability to serve and protect the people of Louisville,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “We are committed to working with Louisville on a path forward to constitutional policing and stronger police-community trust. Although police reform won’t happen overnight, focused effort and sustained commitment will bring us closer to transformed relationships, safe communities, and this nation’s promise of justice and equality under the law.”

“People in Louisville deserve policing that is constitutional, fair and non-discriminatory,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, adding, “Our investigation found that the police department and city government failed to adequately protect and serve the people of Louisville, breached the public’s trust, and discriminated against Black people through unjustified stops, searches, and arrests.

Clarke noted, “The police used excessive force, subjecting people to unlawful strikes, tasings, and canine bites. The police sought search warrants without justification and carried out no-knock warrants unlawfully, evading the constitution, defying federal law, and putting ordinary citizens in harm’s way. Today marks a new day and a new chapter for the people of Louisville.”

About The Author

Gracy is a 4th Year at UC Davis studying Political Science and minoring in Communications and Sociology. Post graduation plans include traveling and then eventually attending Law School.

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