LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - People directly involved in seeking reforms to the Louisville Metro Police Department say changes should focus on policy and accountability.
Louisville Metro Councilwoman Paula McCraney, co-chair of a new working group that will develop legislation, said recent events have created an opportunity.
“In the past it didn't seem like the community was ready,” McCraney said, “It didn't seem like the Mayor's office was ready. But there's no time like the present, when it's a heated moment and all the focus is on police brutality or in equities in our community. And we've got to capitalize on this opportunity right now."
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McCraney and others will be looking at options that could include appointing an inspector general with oversight of the LMPD, or creating a civilian review board that has the power to demand information from police without having to wait until an investigation is over.
“The ordinance that governs the citizens commission on police accountability is weak,” McCraney said. “We are going to put some meat on the bone, we're going to strengthen it, we're going to give the citizens on that board power to investigate on the front end and hopefully give them some subpoena power.”
McCraney has pushed for better accountability from LMPD for years. So has the group CLOUT, which has had only limited success in attempts to reform police policy.
“It’s the culture that has to change,” said Rev. Reginald Barnes, CLOUT co-president. “When you get an organization coming to you with suggestions, most folks want to think they can police themselves better than anyone else. They have all the answers. But our research shows there’s a better way. Our police force doesn’t have to be warriors but they can be guardians in our community.”
A statement released by CLOUT calls the killing of Breonna Taylor "symptomatic of critical failures in law enforcement practice and accountability."
Barnes said his organization wants to see more community policing from LMPD. On the national level, a proposal in Congress would make it easier for citizens to sue police after alleged civil rights violations.
“(It will) rewrite the law basically,” said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky., 3rd), “so that a citizen can, under the right circumstances, successfully at least have access to the courts to prosecute a civil action against the police department.”