DOJ continues dive into LMPD’s conduct following Breonna Taylor’s death

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 10:51 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As a result of Breonna Taylor’s shooting death last year, the US Department of Justice has been investigating the Louisville Metro Police Department’s practices.

Members of the Louisville Metro Council have long been aware of what the Justice Department is looking for. As the months pass, they are attempting to budget for the costs of necessary reforms. Once the Department of Justice investigation is completed, it is expected to have a ripple effect throughout Louisville Metro government, with taxpayers bearing the brunt of the financial burden.

The lingering follow-up question to the Department of Justice investigation has been how much it will cost for months. The goal of emerging from it with a better police force will not be cheap, and the DOJ cannot be expected to provide funding.

“Ultimately, (the DOJ is) not going to pay for any additional training,” Brian Butler, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said. “They’re not likely to pay for any addition officers on the street. We are.”

Unlike the federal investigation into Breonna Taylor’s death, which focused on specific officers, the DOJ is now looking for patterns of civil rights violations, beginning with how the LMPD handled protests and if the demonstrations were resolved with excessive force, and if there was a pattern of rights violations by the LMPD.

The ideal outcome would be a mutually agreed-upon list of reforms, possibly including more training with a focus on de-escalation and new policies on the use of force.

The stakes are extremely high for LMPD, Blanche Bong Cook, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said.

“If they want to avoid the imposition of a mandate they can clearly accept any recommendations that are made and satisfy those recommendations,” Cook said.

If no agreement on reforms can be reached, the Department of Justice may issue a mandate, effectively removing the city’s ability to overhaul its own police department.

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