LMPD reform targets officer behavior and mental health

Mayor Fischer and Chief Shields point to a long list of reforms underway at LMPD.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Mayor Fischer and Chief Shields point to a long list of reforms underway at LMPD.

The reforms are being made ahead of anticipated changes mandated by the Justice Department. The list includes on reform that has been talked about for years but only recently put to work.

A joint statement from Mayor Greg Fischer and Police Chief Erika Shields on Wednesday described the purpose of the Early Intervention System as “to alert supervisors to sudden behavioral changes in officers or other factors, such as use of force, sick leave usage and vehicle accidents.”

Supervisors could then make decisions to “intervene and address potentially problematic behaviors and, if appropriate, find ways to redirect,” the statement said.

Early intervention will be a companion to a newly created Wellness Unit, staffed with a psychologist, Chaplin and counselors.

The Unit is described by LMPD Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey as enabling LMPD “to evaluate use of force incidents and provide swift feedback to enhance officer performance, additional training, and recommend needed changes to policy, equipment, supervision and communications.”

This approach to observing officer behavior and mental health has been in use in a similar fashion by the Lexington Police department since 2001.

Called the Personnel Early Warning System, it is administered by the Lexington PD Public Integrity Unit. Not a disciplinary tool, it is one way to maintain ongoing development and performance of officers.

“The early indication system or alert on an officer on its own may not trigger any need to do anything with an officer but we err on the side of caution,” Lexington Police Lt. Matthew Brotherton said. “If it’s coming to the point where we have waited for the early indications system we have probably failed as supervisors or leaders in the organization. If an officer has an issue, hopefully it won’t take the early indication system for us to identify that.”