Metro Council members are refining a proposed ordinance to create a new civilian review board for police oversight, a key reform proposed by Mayor Greg Fischer after the police shooting of Breonna Taylor became a point of national scrutiny.
The council’s public safety committee discussed the ordinance Wednesday, going over details including how many appointees on the 11-person board would be at the mayor’s discretion.
The legislation would create a new Civilian Review & Accountability Board that would oversee a new Office of Inspector General. It would end the existing Citizens Commission on Police Accountability.
Paula McCraney (D-7) presented the legislation. She co-chaired the 33-member work group that convened in late May along with deputy mayor Ellen Hesen.
McCraney previously served on the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, a position she said she gave up when she took elected office. During Wednesday’s meeting, she described that board as “an ineffective use of anyone’s time,” given frequent member absences, the board’s tendency to agree with police investigative summaries and the lack of recommendations it provided.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting found this summer that Louisville has repeatedly considered instituting this type of civilian oversight after police shootings of Black civilians. But previous attempts have failed to materialize or been largely toothless.
“As I researched civil review boards and discovered the burden that board members would carry in understanding each case through the lens of a civilian and a police officer, I learned just how much training and investigation was needed,” McCraney said.
The proposed ordinance would require new and reappointed board members to undergo 16 hours of training. Topics covered would include basic legal and constitutional policing issues, body-worn cameras, de-escalation, implicit bias and at least eight hours of accompanying Louisville Metro Police officers on patrol.
In tweets Wednesday afternoon, Fischer wrote, “This independent review panel will become an integral component to rebuilding community trust and legitimacy, and it will provide residents with an extra avenue of police accountability.”
He praised the work group’s efforts and said he would sign the ordinance into law following council approval.