Acting Louisville Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel will continue in her role permanently and take over a department that has been in turmoil since the police killing of Breonna Taylor in 2020 and this year is been criticized in a scathing report by the US Department of Justice.
Gwinn-Villaroel, 49, will be the first black woman to serve permanently as chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department. You had been interim chief since January, following the resignation of your predecessor, Erika Shields, one of several recent leadership changes.
« Over the past six months, Chief Gwinn-Villaroel has shown our city that he has exactly what I’m looking for in a leader and exactly what our community is looking for in a leader, » said Mayor Craig Greenberg, who took office in January , he said on Thursday in a Press release announcing his hiring. « He has extensive law enforcement leadership experience and a record of reforming. »
Chief Gwinn-Villaroel, a 26-year law enforcement veteran, started with the department in 2021 as a deputy chief after spending his entire career with the Atlanta Police Department.
Ms. Gwinn-Villaroel first served under Ms. Shields in Atlanta, until Ms. Shields resigned after the police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in 2020.
Gwinn-Villaroel is the fifth person to lead the Louisville police force since June 2020, when Chief Steve Conrad was fired after officers killed a famous restaurant owner in a gunfight during protests in that summer. Two interim chiefs responded before Ms. Shields took over the department in January 2021.
The Louisville Police Department began coming under scrutiny in 2020 after officers shot and killed Ms. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, in her apartment during a middle-of-the-night raid. Four officers involved in that shooting were indicted last year.
But tensions between law enforcement and city residents had escalated long before Ms. Taylor’s death.
In March, the United States Justice Department has released the results of an investigation this concluded that the Louisville Metro Police Department had routinely violated citizens’ constitutional rights.
« For years, LMPD has practiced an aggressive policing style that deploys selectively, especially against Black people, but also against vulnerable people throughout the city, » the report reads.
Ms Gwinn-Villaroel said on Thursday she would focus on rebuilding community confidence and reducing violent crime in the city.
“We understand that we need to continue to work on these relationships and build on that community trust that we work on every day,” Ms Gwinn-Villaroel said at a news conference. « We’re invested in making sure we get it right. »