African American leaders in Louisville share thoughts on new LMPD Chief Erika Shields

African American leaders in Louisville share thoughts on new LMPD Chief Erika Shields

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Police Department has a new chief. Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Wednesday that Erika Shields will succeed Interim Chief Yvette Gentry on Jan. 19.

Shields served as the chief of the Atlanta Police Department until she resigned after the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

Some African American leaders in Louisville told WAVE 3 News they feel Shields’ hiring is a step in the wrong direction.

“Today is a disappointing day, a very disappointing day,” Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center Pastor Timothy Findlay Jr. said.

For months, Findley was amongst protesters who marched in the streets of Louisville demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. In June, he was handcuffed and brought to the ground by police officers during a protest in St. Matthews.

Findley told WAVE 3 News the decision to hire Shields may reverse the work protesters did in 2020 if she does not push the city forward.

“Two hundred-plus days of protests and they decide that the most viable candidate is the woman who quit in Atlanta on the heels of the killing of Rayshard Brooks?” Findley asked. “It just defies any level of logic.”

Findley was not the only one to express concern over the decision.

Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds told WAVE 3 News she does not feel comfortable with Shields at the helm but will do her best to work with her.

“Our city has now hired a police chief that Atlanta didn’t want recently,” Reynolds said, “and I’m worried about that. Now, am I cheering for her? Do I want her to be successful? Absolutely. But, I’m very concerned. We can no longer be baffled by the B.S. We need the work done. So, she is the police chief, and we are going to support, or work with, whoever is in leadership in this city to make this city better, but I don’t feel thrilled about the choice.”

Community activist Christopher 2X stated he is optimistic about Shields. He met with Fischer and Shields with families affected by gun violence in Louisville to discuss her plan for reducing violent crime in the city.

2X told WAVE 3 News the meeting was productive and positive.

On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher 2X and families of gun violence victims met with new LMPD chief Erika Shields to discuss gun violence in Louisville.
On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher 2X and families of gun violence victims met with new LMPD chief Erika Shields to discuss gun violence in Louisville. (Source: Courtesy: Christopher 2X)

“I’m ready to engage Chief Shields on that conversation, especially as it relates to teenagers and children and I’m just open-minded to see where she wants to go with that and her community engagement angle on that,” 2X said.

WAVE 3 News also reached out to the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. In a statement, board member K.A. Owens said:

“The KY Alliance looks forward to meeting with Chief Shields. We will work in partnership with anyone who seeks to move the city of Louisville in a positive direction in regards to police/community relations.”

The River City Fraternal Order of Police also released a statement, which reads:

“The FOP was cautiously optimistic about the appointment of Chief Shields, the third chief of police in the past seven months. We were hopeful that she could fill the tremendous void of accountable leadership that has been present on the Louisville Metro Police Department during Mayor Fischer’s entire administration. Immediately following the press conference, in a meeting with Chief Shields, the FOP executive board addressed the factually incorrect information that was relayed during that press conference and our displeasure at the continued false narratives coming from the administration. Mayor Fischer and Chief Shields should immediately dispel the false narratives that Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her bed when she was shot, that search warrants aren’t served and laws aren’t enforced in white neighborhoods and that race plays any part in LMPD investigations. We had hoped to work with the new chief in an effort to make this department successful in recruiting and retaining the best officers our region has to offer. Unfortunately some of the comments made today have already caused many members to lose faith in her ability to improve this department. Our members deserve to work for commanders who display integrity and strong leadership. The community deserves a police department with leadership that can be trusted to do the right thing all of the time. That said, the FOP is still willing to make every effort to work with Chief Shields to develop a strong and trusting relationship with the rank and file officers of the LMPD.”

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