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Louisville Metro Police, Others to Address Distrust of Law Enforcement in Panel Discussion

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Jacob Ryan/WFPL News
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Amid national attention to police tactics across the U.S., Louisville officials are making an attempt to open up a dialogue between local police and the community.

On Tuesday residents are invited to attend a panel discussion that will include Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad and Deborah Keeling, David Owen and Cedric Powell, all from the University of Louisville. The discussion will be hosted by the Louisville Metro Human Rights Commission.

Ricky Jones, chair of the UofL Pan-African Studies department, will moderate the discussion.

Jones said he will direct the conversation toward addressing overarching societal ills that have led to the broad distrust of the law enforcement system.

“We have a crisis in faith of American institutions, not just the police,” he said.  “What we are seeing is police acting in ways where they are playing out the psychological orientation of the citizenry.”

The idea for the panel was developed before a New York grand jury recently decided to not indict a NYPD officer who fatally choked Eric Garner, 43.

Because of that decision, Jones said he believes the conversation will “be a little heavier now.”

He added the only way discussions like these can be successful is if they highlight issues facing all aspects of society.

“It’s very, very important that we pay attention to those larger American institutions, of which police are only a part,” he said.

Martha Lawfer, supervisor of the Metro Human Right Commission, said she hopes the discussion will be the start of “a number of conversations around issues that are important to people in this community and around the country.”

The panel discussion will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Urban League, 1535 West Broadway.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.