Metro Louisville

Louisville officials may mandate that police officers be tested for drugs and alcohol soon after shooting or using force.

Metro Council members Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) and president David James (D-6) filed an ordinance late last week that proposes requiring the testing “as soon as practicable after the critical incident.”

Sexton Smith said she was “shocked” to learn the Louisville Metro Police Department may not have mandatory drug and alcohol testing after such events. She said the such testing could aid investigations.

“It would be one more piece of important information in the investigation that would either clear someone, had they been accused of that, or it would bring evidence to bear that may have had some role in the incident,” she said.

This legislation follows the unanimous passage of a ban on no-knock warrants in Louisville earlier this month. Both are inspired by the police killing in March of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, in her home.

Sexton Smith said she did not know if such testing was performed on any of the police who were involved in the raid on Taylor’s home: Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove.

City officials on Tuesday announced that Hankison has been fired, after first announcing their intention to fire him last week. He still has the right to appeal based on the police union contract. Protesters in Louisville and supporters across the country continue to demand that all three be fired and charged.

The department’s standard operating procedures allow for testing if “reasonable suspicion exists to indicate that a member’s health or ability to perform work may be impaired.” While that document calls for testing “as soon as possible,” the ordinance proposes a more firm deadline: “as soon as practicable after the critical incident, but no later than the end of the
involved officer’s shift and before any interviews are conducted regarding the incident,”

LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay confirmed that drug and alcohol testing is not currently mandated after critical incidents, which the ordinance defines as the use of deadly force by an officer or “an action taken in the line of duty by a sworn Louisville Metro Police Department officer which results in, or potentially could have resulted in, the death or serious physical injury to the sworn officer or any other person.”

“We are reviewing the language of the ordinance to see what, if any, recommendations we may have on the language,” Halladay said in an email.

Halladay declined to comment on the Taylor case specifically, saying it is ongoing.

The proposed ordinance was not a response to any specific incident beyond the larger context of the Taylor shooting, Sexton Smith said. Instead, she called it a “common sense” measure. In any industry, there are people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction who may need help, she said.

Sexton Smith said she expected the ordinance to go through the regular process of being read into the record, heard in committee, then moved to the full Metro Council for a vote.

“I cannot imagine anyone not wanting to support this,” she said. “What is one reasonable justification for not supporting this?”

After the council votes on the city’s budget on Thursday, the body will recess until July 16.

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.