Louisville Metro Police’s VIPER Unit Commander and a Detective Are Under Investigation

The commander and a detective in a Louisville Metro Police unit focused on violent, repeat offenders are under investigation, police confirmed Thursday.

Lt. Johann “Kit” Steimle and Detective Carl Payne have been reassigned to administrative duties, said Alicia Smiley, a police spokeswoman.

Earlier this month, LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit—which handles internal investigations—issued a search warrant that included Payne’s mobile phone and electronic devices. The search warrant—which was not served—said a woman, Chaka Murrell, 35, had alleged that Payne sent her sexually explicit text messages, photos and videos. Payne arrested Murrell in April (she was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, court records said).

Payne’s phone number matched a number Murrell gave as the sender of the explicit material, the search warrant alleges.

Smiley would not say why, specifically, Payne or Steimle are being investigated. Payne is being investigated by LMPD’s Public Integrity Unit. Steimle is under a professional standards investigation. 

Steimle and Payne are part of LMPD’s VIPER Unit, which launched in fall 2012 as part of Chief Steve Conrad’s push for more data and intelligence-based law enforcement. The VIPER Unit focuses on areas with large amounts of crime and on arresting violent, persistent offenders under the premise that those people commit a disproportionate number of crimes.

In August, LMPD officials—including Steimle—told a Louisville Metro Council committee that the VIPER Unit had helped reduce crime in nine out of 10 areas they’ve targeted. In August, police officials said the VIPER Unit was made up of 30 officers.

For now, Lt. Sean Jackman is leading the VIPER Unit, Smiley said.

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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