Community activists call on Metro Council to pass police use of force ordinance

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 12:02 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - An ordinance limiting the Louisville Metro Police Department’s use of force policy hits the full council Thursday for debate and a vote, after receiving a negative recommendation from the Metro Council Public Safety Committee last week.

The ordinance takes already existing police policy and writes it into law. It mirrors the national “8 Can’t Wait” campaign, aimed at eliminating dangerous use of force practices like chokeholds and shooting at moving cars, requiring de-escalation and officer intervention.

Six of the eight are already part of LMPD’s policy.

LMPD Interim Chief Yvette Gentry testified to the committee that it would take away flexibility that is needed with ever-changing policy.

A group of community activists gathered Wednesday asking citizens to call their council members and urge them to vote yes. Breonna Taylor’s aunt Bianca Austin and about a dozen other community activists told WAVE 3 News they wanted to put the call out on something they see as crucial in building back trust with the department.

“You will hear critiques from well-meaning administration within LMPD saying these ordinances will prevent future chiefs of police from having the leeway to create the type of department they want,” activist Wes Tolbert said. “If that statement is in fact true, we wouldn’t need these ordinances in the first place."

Supporters of the ordinance argue the details of the use of force ordinance are only broad guardrails or a framework that doesn’t go into detail -- that’s up to the chief. They say it simply makes it so a new chief can’t come in and take the eight requirements out of LMPD policy.

”The goal isn’t to target officers for criminal prosecution, the goal is for LMPD to give the citizens of Louisville the best police department possible," independent journalist Brad Harrison said.

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