Community

Yvette Gentry, a former deputy chief of Louisville Metro Police, will become the department’s next interim chief.

Gentry will fill the role being vacated by Robert Schroeder, who is retiring. She will become the first Black woman to lead LMPD when she takes over Oct. 1.

Gentry has worked in the nonprofit sector since retiring from the force in 2014. The announcement of her return comes as the city surpasses 100 days of protest in the wake of the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by LMPD officers.

Gentry said the conditions of the city and the death of three-year-old Trinity Randolph, who was murdered last month, drove her decision to take on the job.

“Three years old, you know,” she said in an interview. “We’re debating on whether somebody was involved with the drug dealer and whether they should live and all this stuff, and, like, that’s not the debate, right? Everybody out here is struggling with something. But we have to create conditions that a three-year-old can make it to four years old. And if I can help, then I’ll get up off the couch and do it.”

While policing isn’t new to Gentry, she brings with her a different perspective from her time as a civilian. She said becoming a “consumer of the city’s services” gave her the opportunity to identify areas in need of improvement.

Though she retired from LMPD in 2014, Gentry held two more positions with metro government before joining Metro United Way where she remains employed.

When she returns to LMPD, she says her focus will be on battling the city’s historic inequities that predate the protests of 2020.

“It’s not a single-issue struggle,” Gentry said. “We got to work on housing. We got 30,000 people that are going to be homeless real soon. We have inequities. We have boarded up communities, not just downtown, that have been boarded up for a long time. So I share a lot of the frustration, so I have that in common with a lot of the protesters. And I share the frustration that a lot of officers have.”

Gentry said she can’t promise perfection, but she can promise transparency.

“There will be mistakes,” she said. “I can’t promise you no mistakes. I know you don’t expect perfection. I don’t believe this community expects perfection. I believe you expect honesty, and I’ll give you that.”

While Gentry sees herself as filling the gap when she’s needed, she refers to herself as “chief for a while,” she will take over a department dealing with controversy over its handling of protests.

She said how she polices demonstrations will depend on the situation when she comes on duty. She noted that protests could wind down by then, as Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s investigation into Breonna Taylor’s killing could end in the coming weeks.

What Gentry said she won’t be there to do is, “quell protesters,” as she sees herself as a protester trying to implement change. As a Black woman, many of the opportunities afforded to her in her lifetime have come as a result of demonstrations, she said.

“I believe in peaceful protests, but also believe that when people say that they want justice, that I’m going to make sure that my officers are held accountable,” Gentry said. “But everybody’s got to be held accountable, too. Otherwise, you’re not exactly living what you said you were going to do.”

Gentry did not apply for the permanent position. She said her goal is to help lead the department through the gap as the city searches for a new permanent chief.

This post has been corrected to include Gentry’s additional jobs with metro government after leaving LMPD.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.