Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Erika Shields — who took over the department last year following the police killing of Breonna Taylor and months of racial justice protests in the city — will step down early next year, Mayor-Elect Craig Greenberg said on Monday.
“I have spoken with LMPD Chief Erika Shields and she has offered to resign her position as Chief of Police at the end of Mayor [Greg] Fischer’s term,” Greenberg said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I will accept her resignation as Chief upon taking office on January 2nd, 2023.”
The mayor-elect added that Shields will remain with LMPD until February to assist with the transition. The search for a new chief, he said, “will begin immediately.” Greenberg said he will name an interim chief before he takes office in January.
After being elected Louisville’s next mayor earlier this month, Greenberg would not commit to keeping Shields on as chief, but said he looked forward to speaking with her.
The announcement of Shields’s departure comes as Louisville continues to wait for the findings of a wide-ranging Department of Justice pattern or practice investigation into LMPD. It is widely anticipated that the end result of the investigation will be a federal consent decree.
In a statement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer thanked Shields for her service and credited her with reducing homicides and shootings in the city. In her own statement, Shields said she was “honored” to lead LMPD “during a time of unprecedented change in policing here and across the country.”
Fischer hired Shields, who previously served as Atlanta’s police chief, after a six-month-long nationwide search for a permanent chief after Steve Conrad resigned following the June 1, 2020 death of West End BBQ chef David McAtee. McAtee was killed by a National Guardsman’s bullet as National Guard troops and LMPD officers attempted to enforce a curfew at 26th and Broadway, about 20 blocks away from the epicenter of Breonna Taylor protests in downtown Louisville. Shields stepped down as Atlanta’s chief in June 2020 following the police killing of Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy’s.
Shields arrived in Louisville talking about reform and the existence of racial disparities in policing.
“This doesn’t happen to white people. It just doesn’t,” she said of Breonna Taylor’s killing the day she was announced as police chief. “If we really are doing this fairly and impartially, why is this not happening in white communities? And don’t tell me that it’s because Black people are where the crime is, Black people are where the violence is. That’s crap.”
For more on Shields, check out this Louisville Magazine profile of her, which ran as the cover story of LEO Weekly’s Sept. 29, 2021 issue.
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