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Louisville mayor candidate Bill Dieruf demands feds release LMPD report before election

Louisville Courier-Journal 9/15/2022 Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal
Jeffersontown mayor and Louisville republican mayoral candidate Bill Dieruf, left, talks with supporters at his watch party at O'Shea's Irish Pub on Baxter Ave. May 17, 2022 © Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network Jeffersontown mayor and Louisville republican mayoral candidate Bill Dieruf, left, talks with supporters at his watch party at O'Shea's Irish Pub on Baxter Ave. May 17, 2022

Louisville mayoral candidates Bill Dieruf and Craig Greenberg held back-to-back news conferences this week that focused on different issues, with the Republican zeroing in on the looming U.S. Department of Justice investigative report into Louisville and its police department and the Democrat covering his "Day One" priorities.

Dieruf spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon in Jefferson Square Park, the hub of 2020's racial justice protests. The sole purpose of his presser was to demand the DOJ release its "pattern-or-practice" findings concerning Louisville Metro Police and Metro Government "as soon as possible."

Last week Mayor Greg Fischer and LMPD Chief Erika Shields made the media rounds to share how the DOJ's report on the Louisville investigation, which Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in April 2021, is expected "within weeks". They stressed that the city and police department have "not waited" on implementing over 100 reforms.

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"They know this report from the Department of Justice will be a damning indictment of their leadership and that of their predecessors," Dieruf said Tuesday. "This is nothing more than a last-minute attempt to distract us from their failures by pointing to changes that have done nothing to address the root cause of the problem."

In addition to calling for the report's release, he asked Fischer, Shields and their administration to publicly release "all briefings and communications they’ve received from the Department of Justice concerning the report’s preliminary findings."

"It is absolutely imperative that the report be released to the public before the election on November 8, so that the voters may be fully informed," added Dieruf, the mayor of suburban Jeffersontown. "It’s clear that Mayor Fischer will attempt to do as he has done so many times in the past — stonewall, stall, cover up and blame others for the critical findings of the Department of Justice. Only by doing so can he protect Craig Greenberg, his hand-picked successor."

Fischer's spokeswoman, Jessica Wethington, told The Courier Journal the DOJ "will release their report when they are ready to do so."

"We have not seen the report or any findings, and as has been shared with the public, the Mayor and the Louisville Metro Police Department have not waited on the Department of Justice to begin implementation of 150+ accountability and improvement measures," Wethington wrote in an email.

Greenberg, the Democratic nominee who co-owns Ohio Valley Wrestling and is the former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels, focused primarily Wednesday on his "Day One" priorities if elected mayor but described Dieruf's remarks as "conspiracy theories."

"I heard wild, unhinged allegations," Greenberg said at his own press conference that morning. "What I didn't hear was any solutions or any actions. I'm not focused on my opponent's rants. I'm focused on solutions and actions to move Louisville forward in a new direction, to improve public safety with real policies and real plans."

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When Garland announced the DOJ's investigation into Louisville, he did not say if it was prompted by LMPD officers fatally shooting Breonna Taylor in March 2020. Instead, the attorney general said the Justice Department would focus on whether Louisville police:

  • Used unreasonable force, including during peaceful protests;  
  • Engaged in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, including unlawful search warrant executions on private residences;  
  • Discriminated against people based on race; and 
  • Failed to provide public services in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

DOJ investigations into other cities and their police departments often result in consent decrees that can take years to enforce.

Greenberg said he plans on using any consent decree "as a framework for moving forward in a new direction."

Dieruf, who earned the endorsement of the various Fraternal Order of Police lodges in Jefferson County, said Tuesday he would follow any consent decree in place if elected.

"You have to. That’s the law. I would follow the law," Dieruf said. "I will not tell the officers not to follow the law.”

Reporter Joe Sonka contributed to this story. Reach Billy Kobin at bkobin@courierjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville mayor candidate Bill Dieruf demands feds release LMPD report before election

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