In the week since the police killing of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor prompted national outcry, two policies have been the subject of much scrutiny: the use of a “no knock” warrant, and that officers weren’t wearing body cameras on that March night.
Mayor Greg Fischer announced Monday that those policies would change.
He said officers seeking a “no knock” warrant from a judge will first have to get approval from the chief of police, Steve Conrad, or his designee. Also, he said Louisville Metro Police Department policy will change to make body cameras “available for serving warrants, and other situations when they will be identifying themselves as police officers.”
That will apply to all sworn officers, presumably including plainclothes narcotics officers. The officers involved in the raid on Taylor’s apartment on March 13 were not wearing body cameras, which LMPD and the mayor said is because they were plainclothes narcotics officers.
Fischer also said his office is creating a task force including local public safety and community justice leaders to work with Metro Council. That group’s goal will be to design a process for independent civilian review of police disciplinary action, and to create local laws to establish that process, he said.
Already, Fischer counts as one layer of civilian review, and there is a Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, which has not taken much action following its reviews of certain police incidents. Last week, Fischer invited federal entities to review the outcome of the internal investigation by LMPD. That investigation could wrap up this week.
Taylor was killed by police who entered her apartment to serve a search warrant related to a narcotics investigation. LMPD said the officers — Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove — fired back after Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot at them. Mattingly was shot in the leg, and has recovered. Walker was charged with first degree assault and attempting to murder a police officer.
Walker’s defense lawyer said he was startled because the officers did not identify themselves before entering, and fired in self-defense. LMPD has said the officers did identify themselves.
In an emailed statement, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said the steps announced by Fischer are important for ensuring transparency, being responsive to the public’s concerns and making sure situations that present risks for officers and the public have been “properly vetted.”
“Mayor Fischer and I worked through these issues over the weekend. These are important steps to take in order to work collaboratively with our residents and try to establish stronger policies that take into account police safety and public safety,” he said in the statement.
Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for LMPD, said in an email that both policies should be posted by the end of the week. They would go into effect 10 days after posting.
“In the case of body cameras, we will have to order new equipment for some of our officers who currently don’t have body cameras so it could be several weeks before everyone is outfitted as the new policy requires,” she said.
Attorneys for Taylor’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some council members who joined Fischer for the livestreamed announcement expressed hope that they would be able to make progress on the civilian review board project that Bill Hollander (D-9) and Paula McCraney (D-7) were already working on.
But Jessica Green (D-1), the chair of the Public Safety Committee, said she hopes the task force actually achieves something. Green, a Black woman, said she and other Black people are sick of meetings that don’t result in change.
“My expectation is that there will be policy change, that there will be action, that there will be a better relationship between African Americans and police officers, and that Black people will stop being gunned down,” she said.
On Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., Green will preside over a meeting during which lawyers for Taylor’s family and Conrad will address the Public Safety Committee. She said it will be an opportunity for council members to ask questions, and learn more about what happened that night. The attorneys will also have a chance to tell council members about who Taylor was.
“I think adding a little bit of humanity to what people have just read about in the news and about the incident, I think that will be good for my colleagues to hear,” she told WFPL.
That meeting will be available to watch online on MetroTV, on Spectrum channel 184 or on UVERSE channel 99.