LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – More than six months after city leaders created a council that will task ordinary people to review police policies and cases of potential misconduct at the Metro Police Department in Louisville, the key position of Inspector General – who will guide this table – remains empty.
Additionally, as city leaders continue to search for an inspector general, one candidate for the post claims Mayor Greg Fischer has too much influence over the selection process for one.
In November 2020, after months of marches and calls for change, Louisville executives passed an ordinance creating a Civil Review and Accountability Board, a board of 11 ordinary people that will provide an independent layer of oversight and accountability. responsibility at the Louisville Metro Police Department. According to those who created the Civil Council, which sat in March 2021, the members will influence police policies and examine allegations of misconduct.
The 11 members will guide an independent Inspector General in examining these issues.
According to a November 2020 press release from Fischer’s office, the Inspector General will have the power to investigate suspected incidents involving any member of the LMPD and any member of the public. Its duties may include âreviewing models and practices with LMPD; review policies, procedures and operations within LMPD; provide recommendations on improving operations to the mayor and metropolitan council; investigate complaints; and other operations as needed. “
In December 2020, the city began accepting applications for inspector general, and according to the minutes of a May meeting of the civil panel, the city received 60 applications for inspector general which were “reviewed and reduced. to 25 candidates â.
However, the job posting was recently reopened for more applicants.
According to the meeting minutes, the civilian members of the review board made changes to the job description and decided to “repost the position to attract additional applicants.” The opening is now scheduled for mid-July.
Matthew Lemme, a local attorney headquartered in New Albany, applied for the job in December and felt his background as a prosecutor and defense attorney would make him a good fit.
âThis is possibly the most important job of all time,â he said. “The delay is curious. The delay is shocking. The lack of urgency is alarming.”
But Lemme contacted WDRB News with greater concern about the Inspector General’s selection process. He feels that the Fischer administration has too much influence over it.
The ordinance creating the Civilian Review & Accountability Board and the Inspector General stipulates that it is up to the mayor to âestablishâ a search committee âto seek qualified candidatesâ. The same ordinance also requires that a civilian member of the review committee and a member of the metropolitan council be part of that search committee.
The current search committee includes a board member, Paula McCraney, D-7. However, it also includes three members with ties to Fischer’s office. These members include Matt Golden, Head of Public Services for the Fischer Administration, and Ernestine Booth-Henry, Director of Human Resources for the Fischer Administration.
Additionally, Kellie Watson, a civilian review board member appointed to the search committee, has held previous positions in the Fischer administration.
For Lemme, the composition of the search committee gives the wrong impression, since the inspector general could be responsible for holding LMPD accountable and controlling the direction of the mayor of the department.
“This position which was supposed to be indebted to no one and was ultimately to be controlled by no one – and maybe, in the end, they won’t – but the process is certainly controlled by one entity, it seems, “he said.
He hopes that changes can be made which – in his opinion – would give the process more transparency and credibility.
âIf the process continues as it exists, I think it will be called into question,â Lemme said. “Civilians are watching, I think the police are watching, and everyone has a right to answers.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Fischer maintains that the process includes many “checks and balances” that prevent the mayor from having “full influence” over the selection of the inspector general, since McCraney and Watson are also part of the research committee.
While the selection committee is responsible for interviewing and selecting candidates for the post of inspector general, the mayor will ultimately appoint one from a list of three that the committee submits to him. Fischer’s spokesperson also argued that checks and balances are in place, since any candidate for inspector general appointed by the mayor must ultimately be approved by metropolitan council.
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