Metro Louisville

Louisville Metro Council voted Thursday night to approve a new employment contract for rank-and-file police officers that includes what officials have said is the largest one-time pay increase in the department’s history.

Metro Council approved the new collective bargaining agreement in a 20-3 vote, with District 5 Council Member Donna Purvis, a Democrat, voting “present.” In addition to a 15% raise for officers over the next two years, the contract includes some reforms such as mandatory drug testing after critical incidents like a police shooting or serious car accident.

Before the vote, District 21 Metro Council Member Nicole George, a Democrat, said the contract balances reforms with the need to attract and retain good officers.

“If we want a professionalized police department that offers quality services to the things that we’ve heard about in the way of community policing, then we have to be willing to pay competitive wages and benefits to retain and recruit.”

Officials have said the department is currently short more than 200 officers.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer thanked council members for approving the contract, which rank-and-file LMPD officers ratified late last month.

But activists and other community members have opposed the new contract. They say the reforms don’t go far enough, especially considering the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020, and they called on Metro Council to reject the agreement.

Activists also demanded additional reforms, like ensuring supervisor’s notes about officers’ performance and conduct be part of their permanent personnel file. But no such changes were added.

During a recent public hearing, University of Louisville history Catherine Fosl criticized Louisville Metro for conducting contract negotiations behind closed doors.

“It’s a slap in the face to everyone who wants greater transparency, who wants greater accountability to have a process that is so enshrouded in secrecy and doesn’t allow for greater community input,” Fosl said.

Catch up on WFPL’s previous coverage of the contract debate:

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.