In April 2021 federal civil rights officials launched an investigation into Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) and Louisville-Jefferson Metro Government to determine whether or not government officials routinely violate people’s constitutional rights.

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is running this investigation. The investigation will rely on stories from all types of people who live in Louisville.

Many people have reported police misconduct to state and local officials who did nothing about it. While sharing these stories again may be traumatic, DOJ needs to hear from you so they can fully understand the role of LMPD in the community and force LMPD to change. They will use every possible tool to protect your privacy and maintain confidentiality.

Open the menus below to learn more, get involved, and help hold LMPD accountable to the people.


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1. What is DOJ investigating?

Q.What is DOJ investigating?
A.

The investigation into LMPD and the local government is broad. DOJ is looking into LMPD’s practices to determine whether or not there is a pattern of LMPD violating people’s constitutional rights. For example, DOJ will look at whether or not LMPD:

  • engages in excessive use of force
  • limits First Amendment protected activities, such as protesting
  • discriminates against certain groups of people 
  • conducts inappropriate arrests or stops, searches, and seizures

2. What will the investigation do?

Q.What will the investigation do?
A.

DOJ has investigated only 72 local police departments since they were granted this authority in 1994, including those in Baltimore, New Orleans, and Ferguson. 

The Civil Rights Division is asking people to share their stories so they can learn more and force LMPD to change its policies. 

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

3. How to share your story / Protect your privacy

Q.How to share your story / Protect your privacy
A.

This investigation depends on stories from people like you.

Many people have already shared negative police interactions with state and local authorities who did not take action. This investigation is run by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. Your stories will help them fully understand the role LMPD plays in the community and create change.

DOJ will use every protection available to protect your privacy and ensure your story does not include information revealing your identity. This investigation will not be used to advance other government agencies’ work.

  • If criminal wrongdoing by LMPD officers is uncovered in your story, DOJ may refer the issue for criminal prosecution.
  • Share your story: Contact Ethan Trinh in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky. 

4. How long will the investigation take?

Q.How long will the investigation take?
A.

It often takes more than a year from the time an investigation is announced to the time an agreement is reached between a police department and DOJ. The full process took 16 months in Seattle and 18 months in Ferguson.

5. What are the results of these investigations in other cities?

Q.What are the results of these investigations in other cities?
A.

The Department of Justice has investigated only 72 other police departments since it was granted the power to do so in 1994, showing just how seriously they are considering LMPD’s conduct. 

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.

How are policy changes implemented?

Voluntary agreement out of court: Local governments can voluntarily agree to make the changes DOJ wants. This type of agreement is between only the local government and/or law enforcement agency and DOJ. There is no oversight of the agreement’s implementation by a third part. 

Consent decree: Some agreements are overseen and enforced by a federal court. These are called consent decrees. They are similar to a voluntary agreement, but include direct oversight and enforcement by a federal judge to ensure local governments and law enforcement agencies uphold their end of the agreement.

Lawsuit: If the local government refuses to agree to DOJ’s changes either voluntarily or through a consent decree, DOJ can sue in federal court. In this type of lawsuit, DOJ would ask the court to rule in its favor and order the local government and law enforcement agencies to implement their policy changes. A DOJ lawsuit could lead to an agreement without a trial, or to a trial that ultimately settles the case.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA): MOAs do not require the government and/or law enforcement agency under investigation to confirm any allegations of misconduct found in DOJ’s investigation. MOAs signify a commitment to improve some aspects of law enforcement. These agreements often do not include robust and specific policy changes and do not include enforcement measures so DOJ or a federal judge can ensure local officials implement changes.