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Louisville Inspector General’s investigations of police misconduct hindered due to union complaint

Louisville Metro's first Inspector General, Edward Harness, sitting in his office in City Hall.
LPM News
Louisville Metro's first Inspector General, Edward Harness, sitting in his office in City Hall.

Louisville’s inspector general says his office is facing roadblocks in investigating police misconduct because of a complaint filed by the local police union, according to the Courier Journal.

According to Inspector General Ed Harness, the River City Fraternal Order of Police asked Louisville Metro Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel to suspend compelled statements from officers, the Courier Journal reported. The Inspector General’s office was created in response to the 2020 racial justice protests after the police killing of Breonna Taylor. It’s tasked with investigating complaints of police misconduct.

The police officers’ bill of rights, which is part of Kentucky’s statutes, says officers must be given a written notice of potential violations with “sufficient specificity” before giving a statement to investigators “so as to fully inform the police officer of the nature and circumstances of the alleged violation in order that he may be able to properly defend himself.”

The police union says the notices from Harness’ office have not been specific enough. Harness says the complaint is placing an unreasonable burden on the investigations.

According to the story published Wednesday by the Courier Journal, Harness said the police union wanted specific charges cited in the written notices, which would be difficult to determine at the outset of the investigation process for civilian complaints. The union disputes that they are asking for specific charges to be included.

Harness’ office provides the civilian complaint alongside the notice requesting officer interviews rather than pointing to specific policy violations. The Courier Journal reported that 15 of the office’s 18 authorized investigations require officer interviews.

Harness and police union leaders are meeting Wednesday to discuss the complaint. Harness declined to comment to LPM News before the meeting and union officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.