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Louisville Fraternal Order of Police Letter Addressing 'Sensationalists, Liars and Race-Baiters' Adds Strains, Councilman Says

An open letter from the Louisville Fraternal Order of Police chapter aimed at "sensationalists, liars and race-baiters" has added more strains to the relationship between the city's activists and police, a Metro Council member and former FOP president said on Friday.

The letter, signed Thursday afternoon by local FOP President David Mutchler, took issue with residents who questioned police tactics. The letter was issued days after Louisville Metro Police officer Nathan Blanford shot and killed 35-year-old Deng Manyoun Manyoun. Manyoun's death was met with scrutiny by Louisville activists and others.

"To the sensationalists, liars and race-baiters—we are done with you," Mutchler wrote. "Consider yourselves on notice."

(The full letter is posted below.)

Mutchler, a Louisville Metro Police sergeant, added that "we are not your punching bag and we will not simply stand by and accept your verbal or physical assaults."

"Most importantly, though, take not of the following: If you actively resist or assault us, we will use every option available to take you into custody," he wrote.

Activists and others were quick to react:

Councilman David James, himself a former president of the local FOP chapter, said he supports both police and residents. But he said Mutchler's statement was "pretty strong" and likely fueled by frustration.

"A lot of people, on both sides of the fence, are feeling pretty passionate about what has occurred," James, who until recently was a University of Louisville police officer and formerly an officer for Louisville Metro.

"My thoughts, for both sides, are you should probably tone it down some and just deal with the facts and take our emotions out of it and, I think, everybody would fare better for that."

James said the recent killing of Manyoun's death near Fourth and Oak streets last weekend is not the incident activists should use as a "rallying cry of police brutality."

"Around the country, there have been different things we've seen where we've all looked and said 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe that happened,' which raises the level of anticipation and anxiety when there is a police shooting anywhere else," he said. "I think we really have to look at this incident in and of itself."

James said he does not see the letter as a threat.

"If you try to injure a police office that the police officer will defend themselves," he said.

Sgt. David Mutchler did not return multiple requests for comment.

Chief Steve Conrad issued this statement Friday morning.
“I have read the recent letter from Dave Mutchler, the President of River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614.  I have also had the opportunity to speak with President Mutchler.  He wrote this letter in his role as the FOP President.  As the Chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, I have a very different role.  It is my job to work with the men and women of this department to do all we can to make Louisville a safer community.  My most important job is to protect and serve the citizens of Louisville, and I do not believe this serves the interest of the community. To this end, we must always treat everyone with respect and dignity.  By doing so, we earn their trust, which is essential to our success in policing this great community.  We have seen far too much violence over the past few months!  Now is the time for all of us to work together to truly make Louisville the kind of community we all want it to be.”
On Thursday, Mayor Greg Fischer issued this statement.
I appreciate that emotions are high after the tragic event of last week. This letter does not reflect the sentiments of me or the vast majority of Louisville's citizens, who know that we are all on the same page, working to build safe and strong communities for all of our families. We are in this together -- police who put their lives on the line to keep us safe while building strong relationships of trust, and community members, who must be engaged citizens involved in our efforts to create a compassionate, thriving Louisville. Rather than incite anger and distrust between the police and the community, my administration will continue to work to build those critical relationships and the trust they create.
Here's the entire letter.

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Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.