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‘Not going to dignify a question like that’: Louisville mayor denies response on former LMPD chief firing ahead of DOJ investigation

Federal probe into LMPD, Metro Government will include the last 5 years
Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 9:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Amid a newly opened investigation by the Department of Justice, Mayor Greg Fischer denied to answer a question on whether a former chief of police should have been fired sooner.

The DOJ’s investigation into Louisville’s police department and Metro Government, announced Monday, will include practices and decisions made during the past five years, when major problems were already plaguing LMPD.

The Mayor’s administration has been intimately involved with decisions made at LMPD through the years. That includes shaping policy, a job the former civilian Advisor to Chief, Jesse Halladay, described as one of her responsibilities. She was appointed by the Mayor’s Office.

“I would say that there’s been plenty of change enacted by our police chiefs that we’ve had under my watch and that things happen in a city our size,” Fischer said Monday during a press conference after the DOJ’s announcement.

Part of the goal of the DOJ’s investigation is to determine what needs to change, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

That’s something that both LMPD officers and a bipartisan group of Louisville Metro Council members have asked for since at least 2017. That’s when both groups asked Mayor Greg Fischer for former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad’s resignation.

Fischer ignored their requests despite numerous problems, lawsuits and scandals.

LMPD faced criticism about the Explorer child sex abuse case, where two officers were found guilty of sexually abusing underage police cadets. There were numerous lawsuits filed accusing the department of racially profiling during traffic stops. That led to the dismantlement of the Mobile 9th Division.

The department also saw a mass exodus of officers who either retired, quit, or left for other departments. Many cited extremely low morale.

There was also the record-breaking increase in the number of homicides and shootings.

All of those problems were well before the deaths of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee.

But, Fischer continued his support for Conrad and praised him as the department’s leader on numerous occasions.

Monday, after the AG’s announcement, Fischer refused to answer whether he regretted not firing the embattled Chief sooner.

At first he called WAVE 3 News’ question, ‘simplistic.’ When pressed further, he declined to answer again.

“I’m not going to dignify a question like that because it’s simplistic,” he said before the Mayor’s spokesperson Jean Porter cut off the line of questioning.

Fischer did respond that the department has gone through changes in the past few years already.

LMPD has seen four police chiefs in two years.

“This is part of that ongoing record, what we’ve done since the tragedy of Breonna Taylor,” Fischer said. “We’re always going to continue to change. People have different opinions of what that change is. Also, some people don’t welcome change. Others embrace change. So, we’ve always tried to improve and we’re going to continue to do so.”

Garland said they’ll be looking at whether any Constitutional laws were violated and whether the department’s policies were good ones. Garland didn’t just put the responsibility of those decisions on LMPD.

Once the DOJ finishes their investigation, the AG will issue reports and recommendations. If the administration refuses to comply, he said, they could file a civil lawsuit.

The AG said today that this isn’t only for the sake of the community, but also for the police officers themselves who have a difficult and dangerous job.

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