August 14, 2018. Insider Louisville.
Following a contentious meeting and an official rebuff from the mayor’s office, the leadership of Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together said the group wants to meet with Mayor Greg Fischer again to hash out unfinished business over the way police handle use-of-force cases involving at-risk individuals.
At a June 22 meeting with the mayor, his staff and Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad, CLOUT called on the city to create an independent body to review 68 cases it said revealed a lack of consideration for de-escalation training for LMPD officers who have used force against mentally ill or drug-addicted individuals.
Subsequent correspondence between CLOUT and the mayor’s office since that meeting has revealed more points of contention than agreement.
In an Aug. 10 letter addressed to Fischer, CLOUT co-president the Rev. Reginald Barnes wrote that while he was “disappointed” in the city’s response to issues raised by CLOUT, they nonetheless want a second chance to meet.
“Once again, we do ask for the opportunity to meet with you in your office with a small group of our leaders to explore these matters further,” Barnes wrote.
A request for comment from the mayor’s office was not immediately returned. Last week, a spokeswoman for the mayor confirmed in a media report that a second meeting wouldn’t happen.
Barnes’ letter states that CLOUT’s issues with CIT, or Crisis Intervention Team, training aren’t about the training itself but rather with the potential for inconsistencies in how CIT is both applied in the field and how it’s applied during internal reviews of officer actions.
CLOUT maintains that de-escalation tactics known as CIT aren’t being applied in the field by officers, that LMPD’s internal attempts to review these cases are insufficient, and that the city’s response to their June meeting “raises additional questions of transparency and accuracy.”
The city, however, is of a different opinion. In a July 26 letter signed by Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen, Hesen stated that CLOUT was making “inaccurate assumptions” about the LMPD’s CIT training and told the organization it should instead meet with LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, “as I do not believe there is a need for a meeting with the mayor or me on these issues.”
Hesen’s letter chided CLOUT for ignoring the role of the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability, which she said has resulted in “substantive suggestions” and changes within LMPD, and for canceling a meeting with Chief Conrad to discuss issues with CIT training. She also praised them for their role in helping to create the Living Room project and law enforcement-assisted diversion programs in the city.
Barnes said in a June 25 letter that CLOUT canceled its meeting with Conrad “in favor of meeting with (the mayor) instead, without (Conrad) or his staff present,” and maintained that the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability is insufficient for its intended purpose.
Both groups also disagree over an October 2017 document released by LMPD regarding its CIT practices constitutes a proper “evaluation.” The city believes it does, but CLOUT remains unsatisfied.
According to the LMPD, all of its recruits are required to take a mandatory 40 hours of CIT training at the academy.
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