Louisville government implements policies for city's youth programs
Nearly one year ago, several LMPD officers were accused of sexually abusing participants in the department's Explorer Program. Now Louisville Metro Government is trying to make sure an issue like that never happens again.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Nearly one year ago, several LMPD officers were accused of sexually abusing participants in the department's Explorer Program.
Now Louisville Metro Government is trying to make sure an issue like that never happens again.
"Mayor Fischer did not want to just limit and do an investigation but wanted to do an overall assessment of all programs," said JP Hamm, Louisville Metro Government's Director of Human Resources.
Once the LMPD allegations surfaced, Louisville wanted to find a way to monitor the city's 25 departments and all of its youth programs. Dozens of city programs encounter thousands of youth every year. Hamm said it can be difficult to monitor all of the programs especially when programs have different policies.
"Each department can be a little different. So with youth detention, you need to keep the youth within camera range all the time," Hamm said of the differences in departments. "At libraries there are privacy concerns where you can't have a camera in every single spot."
In order to find consistency in policies, Louisville reached out to an outside consulting agency, the McNary Group. The group took a deep-dive into each department and its current policies. The group also looked at national literature to compare how other departments around the country function when dealing with youth.
"Why not write a policy that includes how to have great boundaries with kids and get them the appropriate resources?" Melissa Johnson, LCSW with the McNary Group said.
Johnson said she assisted in the assessment and was excited to be a part of something that will make a huge impact.
"I know as a social worker, you hope for the best but you prepare for the worst," Johnson said. "And you want to find the best critical standards, critical practices for people to follow just in case something happens."
The McNary Group recommended four policies:
- create a comprehensive youth protection personnel policy
- Train all employees
- Educate employees
- Create a specific and relevant departmental code of conduct.
Hamm hopes to implement these policies in every city youth program within the next couple of months. Each policy will further help employees know when child abuse is happening and know how to appropriately handle it.
Hamm hopes parents will understand that the city is doing everything possible to keep children safe within its programs.
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