An executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Wednesday could have some impact on policing and accountability in Louisville.
Biden’s executive order is aimed at improving accountability and transparency in law enforcement. Many of the order’s provisions only apply to federal law enforcement agencies. It will require federal agents to wear body cameras when conducting arrests and searches, and creates a national database to track officer misconduct.
While the federal government can’t mandate local police departments participate, Mayor Greg Fischer told WFPL News on Thursday that Louisville’s will.
“Any way that we can identify police officers that should not be in the profession, which is a small percentage, that’s a very important thing to do so they don’t pop up from city to city,” he said. “We’ve seen stories where bad cops show up in three or four different places.”
Fischer attended the ceremonial order signing in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, along with members of Breonna Taylor’s family. Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed in her home by Louisville Metro police during a middle-of-the-night raid on her home in March of 2020. Fischer said Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, sat in the front row during Biden’s remarks.
The order is a meaningful but limited action on the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death that reflected the challenges in addressing racism, excessive use of force and public safety with a deadlocked Congress.
Biden praised the courage of Floyd’s family members, some of whom attended the signing, to pursue justice despite their pain. He said that’s why the executive order was so important to him.
“It’s a measure of what we can do together to heal the very soul of this nation to address profound fear and trauma, exhaustion, particularly Black Americans have experienced for generations,” he said. “And to channel that private pain and public outrage into a rare mark of progress for years to come.”
In addition to requiring federal law enforcement officers to wear body cameras when conducting some operations, the order also restricts the flow of surplus military equipment to local police.
Biden’s order came a day after Louisville officials said the U.S. Marshals who pursued and killed Omari Cryer in the West End last week weren’t wearing body cameras. LMPD was working with federal agents to serve an arrest warrant for Cryer. Few details are available about how that incident unfolded.
Fischer said he welcomed the policy changes.
“Body-worn camera video is the ultimate because it shows what’s taking place,” he said. “So, the more opportunities you have to enhance that type of evidence in the city, that leads to an opportunity to both explain and to build trust.”
LMPD is currently the focus of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which seeks to determine whether the department has a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force or violating constitutional rights.
Biden’s order aims to bolster such investigations and related prosecutions. That includes “directing the issuance of best practices for independent investigations and improving coordination to address systemic misconduct,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House.
This story was updated on May 26 to include comments from Mayor Greg Fischer.