In April 2021, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and Louisville-Jefferson Metro Government and determined government officials routinely violate people’s constitutional rights.

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1. What did the DOJ investigate?

A.What did the DOJ investigate?


The DOJ looked into LMPD’s practices to determine if there is a pattern of LMPD violating people’s constitutional rights through:

  • engaging in excessive use of force;
  • limiting First Amendment protected activities, such as protesting;
  • discriminating against certain groups of people;
  • conducting inappropriate arrests or stops, searches, and seizures;
  • and many other practices.

2. What did the investigation find?

A.What did the investigation find?


The DOJ investigation confirmed what many Louisvillians have said about LMPD for years — that LMPD routinely violates the constitutional rights of the people they are sworn to protect and serve. 

Some of the DOJ's findings include:

  • LMPD uses excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment through dangerous neck restraints, police dogs, unsafe and unreasonable use of tasers, and lack of oversight;
  • LMPD violates the Fourth Amendment by conducting searces based on invalid warrants; 
  • LMPD violates the Fourth Amendment by executing search warrants without knocking and announcing;
  • LMPD discriminates against Black people, that the department knew about this, and adopted practices that only increased the risk of discrimination;
  • LMPD violates the First Amendment when responding to protected speech against police action during protests;
  • LMPD violates the Americans with Disabilities Act when responding to people with behavioral health disabilities; 
  • LMPD does not adequately investigate sexual assault, both within its own ranks and in the community;
  • LMPD's systems of accountability are deeply flawed.

Read the full DOJ report here.

3. What will the results of the investigation do / what's next?

A.What will the results of the investigation do / what's next?


Most investigations lead to DOJ forcing local governments and law enforcement agencies to implement policy changes to better protect people’s constitutional rights. DOJ’s goal is not to abolish or defund a police department, but to implement policies that reform practices and reduce misconduct.

Now that the DOJ has proven systemic misconduct, they can force LMPD and Louisville-Jefferson Metro Government to change. Local officials can enter an agreement with the DOJ voluntarily or the DOJ can go to court to reach an agreement enforced by the court. 

This agreement is called a consent decree. A consent decree is a federal court order in which parties agree to implement specific reforms within a certain time frame to address the practices contributing to the unlawful conduct found by the investigation. These court orders are typically overseen by an independent monitor — a third-party individual appointed by the court to ensure that the police department complies with the order. Read more about consent decrees and what happens after DOJ investigations on the Legal Defense Fund's website.