Justice Department, Louisville Negotiating Federal Settlement On City's Policing Practices

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice has started negotiations on a settlement with the city of Louisville after federal officials released a report detailing a pattern of racial discrimination by the city's police force.

The multiyear federal investigation was prompted by the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor and the treatment of demonstrators during street protests in 2020.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said city officials met with Justice Department officials Tuesday morning and received the first draft of the settlement, which is known as a consent decree. Greenberg said the two sides were beginning “preliminary negotiations.” Federal officials advised city officials to keep the draft confidential during negotiations, Greenberg said in a prepared statement.

“My administration and (Louisville Police) will continue to keep Louisville informed about the work being done to reform and improve how our police department operates," he said.

The DOJ report released in March 2023 said the Louisville police department “discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities,” uses excessive force and conducts searches based on invalid warrants. It also said the department violates the rights of people engaged in protests.

The DOJ report also said Black motorists in Louisville were more likely to be searched during traffic stops, and officers used neck restraints, police dogs and Tasers against people who posed no imminent threat.

Greenberg called the 2023 report “a painful picture of LMPD’s past,” but said it has pointed the city "in the right direction for our future as we make LMPD the most trained, trusted and transparent police department in America.”

Once the consent decree is agreed upon, a federal officer will monitor the progress made by the city.

The city has initiated some reforms since Taylor's death in March 2020, including a city law banning the use of “no-knock” warrants. The warrants are typically used in surprise drug raids. The city also started a pilot program that aims to send behavioral health professionals to some 911 calls and has expanded community violence prevention efforts.