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Louisville’s police chief, fifth since 2020, resigns amid workplace sexual harassment crisis

Woman police officer seated at a table
J. Tyler Franklin
Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel became the permanent chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department in July 2023.

Louisville Metro Police Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel resigned Tuesday morning, Mayor Craig Greenberg said.

Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel was suspended almost two weeks while under investigation for her handling of a workplace sexual harassment accusation raised by a police major in May. Since then, two more women within LMPD have come forward with similar claims.

Mayor Craig Greenberg announced Tuesday afternoon that he had tapped Paul Humphrey to take over as interim chief. Humphrey is the sixth person to lead the troubled department since 2020, when longtime chief Steve Conrad was fired by Mayor Greg Fischer for mishandling protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

At a press conference in Metro Hall, Greenberg said Humphrey, who was the acting chief during Gwinn-Villaroel’s suspension, has embraced the need to reform policing in Louisville.

“He understands that what’s needed for this department to move forward is to continue making improvements, to continue fighting crime and to continue strengthening relationships with the entire community,” Greenberg said.

Gwinn-Villaroel will be paid for four months as part of a severance package. Greenberg declined to comment on whether he asked for her resignation.

He said there will not be a national search for a permanent police chief “at this time.”

Greenberg said he wants LMPD to focus on implementing new changes to internal sexual harassment procedures, reducing violent crime and negotiating a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Louisville Metro is currently working with the DOJ to produce the consent decree, which will serve as a court-mandated roadmap for reform. Last year, the DOJ issued a scathing report, accusing LMPD of routinely violating residents’ civil rights and failing to properly investigate sexual misconduct within its ranks.

Humphrey, an 18-year veteran of LMPD, previously oversaw the creation of the department’s Accountability and Improvement Bureau and has been at the negotiating table with federal officials.

“There is no one in the city who is better versed on what the consent decree is, what it’s asking for and what the expectations are than [interim] Chief Humphrey,” Greenberg said.

Humphrey’s first act as interim chief Tuesday was announcing changes to how the department handles workplace sexual harassment. Leaders are expanding options for reporting as well as instituting mandatory training, among other reforms.

Humphrey said he plans to make it clear to officers that he won’t tolerate sexual harassment and they should expect to be held to a high standard. He said the department has had too many self-inflicted wounds over the years and he wants to bring the focus back on solving crimes.

“We are going to have clear instructions, plans and communication to both officers and the public about how we are going to behave and how we are going to address crime,” he told reporters.

Officers accused of sexual harassment placed on leave

Greenberg and Humphrey also provided an update on the ongoing sexual harassment controversy within LMPD.

There have been three separate accusations of workplace sexual misconduct by female officers in recent weeks, including two lawsuits against Louisville Metro Government.

All of the officers that have been accused of misconduct are now on leave: Maj. Shannon Lauder, her husband Lt. Jeff Lauder, Maj. Brian Kuriger and officer Justin LeMon.

Shannon Lauder accused Kuriger of sexual harassment during a May 22 meeting of LMPD leadership. Gwinn-Villaroel promoted Kuriger less than a minute after Lauder spoke up, which led to Gwinn-Villaroel’s suspension.

Then last week, LMPD Sgt. Lauren Carby filed a lawsuit against the city accusing Jeff Lauder of making inappropriate advances on her at a 2020 pool party at the Lauders’ residence. Carby alleges Shannon Lauder encouraged Carby to enter into a sexual relationship with her husband.

Officer Christine Silk also filed a lawsuit against the city last week alleging a hostile work environment and that LMPD leadership failed to protect her from sexual harassment. One of the officers Silk accused of misconduct was already investigated and reassigned.

All the officers currently on administrative leave will remain there until investigations are completed. This is standard protocol and does not indicate guilt or innocence.

This story has been updated.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.
Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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