LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The day after the announcement that Erika Shields would become LMPD’s new chief, she traveled back to Atlanta to testify in a controversial officer involved incident.
Shields talked about what she implemented as chief when she first assumed the position in Atlanta over the course a four-hour long hearing,
Her first focus cracking down on illegally possessed guns.
“I made their mission very simple,” Shields said. “You are going to get guns off the street.”
Shields said she reconfigured their tactical unit and said the number of confiscated guns tripled within the first year. She talked about its effect on reducing violent crime, something she was thankful for. Shields added that officers’ arrests needed to be more focused.
“I don’t want to see misdemeanor arrests,” she said. “I want to see felony arrests.”
Confiscating illegally possessed guns was part of the mission of LMPD’s Mobile 9th Unit. That changed after the unit and other officers were accused of conducting racially profiled stops.
The 9th Mobile Unit, which had already been recreated from the Viper Unit (LMPD’s Violent Crime unit) was dismantled amid the controversies.
Shields also talked about her creation of a body worn camera unit comprised of a group of supervisors to audit officers.
“You can’t have a critical incident and not have it on body worn camera,” stated.
She added that she saw body cameras as a great tool to measure whether officers were adhering to the training the department relied on.
“If we were deficient we needed to fix that before a critical incident,” she told the board members.
It was the issue of body cameras that ultimately led to the firing of former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad after the incident surrounding the fatal shooting of popular restaurant owner, David “YaYa” McAtee.
On the list of achievements, Shields spoke about her Contingency Operations Division, which was focused on protest response.
Shields explained she had a “hands off’ approach, unless there was destruction of property.
“You want to let folks get out in the streets and let their anger out,” she said. “I mean as long as there’s being no damage or destruction of buildings or property, you want to steer the protest to the marching route.”
She says she doesn’t want to invite any inciting to the streamers with their own gear.
“Our posture is that the folks in the turtle suits, that look soo star-techy like, that they’d be out of sight because just their mere presence is inclined to escalate a situation.”
She added that training officers to operate in the protest setting was also critical.
“You can’t take police officers and say, ‘oh my god’ we’re going to have a protest at the end of the week and shove them out there and think and that they’re going to perform well if they haven’t trained on a regular basis,” she added.
Shields resigned from Atlanta following the controversial officer involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks.
Her LMPD salary will be $210,000. She is expected to begin January 19th.