LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's police union is blaming the lack of city leadership for the scathing U.S. Department of Justice report on law enforcement. 

In a strongly worded statement released late Wednesday, the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614 (RCFOP) said, "There are many factors and circumstances, existing over a long period of time, which culminated in the publication of this DOJ report. The most damning of these factors being the continued leadership failures by past Louisville Metro administrations."

"Over a generation of irresponsible political leadership and failed leadership within LMPD, appointed by these administrations, have tarnished the image of what should be one of the premier law enforcement agencies in this country," the statement said. "The FOP has bemoaned these leadership failures for years – to no avail. This is no surprise to those who have been paying attention to and witnessing what has transpired in our community. The members of the LMPD and the citizens they serve have suffered the consequences of these leadership failures, to include critical staffing shortages, sky rocketing levels of violent crime, inadequate facilities, and the need for more adequate training - just to mention a few."

The DOJ found Louisville police have engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discrimination against the Black community following an investigation prompted by the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Speaking in Louisville on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the report found that Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department "engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law."

The report said the Louisville police department "discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities," uses excessive force and conducts searches based on invalid warrants. It also said the department violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech, like the street protests in the city in the summer of 2020 after Taylor's death. Garland said some officers have assaulted people with disabilities and called Black people disparaging names.

Investigators dedicated most LMPD officers as "public servants who work hard to promote public safety," and Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg emphasized that in his remarks alongside Justice Department officials. 

"The vast majority of our officers are good and honorable people who are doing this work because they want to serve," Greenberg said. "They want to help and they're willing to put their lives on the line. They frequently go into dangerous, traumatized and heartbreaking situations to keep us safe." 

In the statement, the police union said the men and women of LMPD are dedicated professionals that strive to protect and serve with honor and integrity. The organization admits there have been problems in its ranks, but it said officers should be allowed to defend themselves against allegations. 

"Unfortunately, no law enforcement agency is without flaws. There have been instances where officers have acted in a manner that is not consistent with the values, ethics, and morals of good policing. Some of those instances have been referenced in the DOJ report. However, there are protocols in place to address those transgressions and officers have been held accountable. The FOP supports holding police officers accountable for their actions. Officers, like all citizens, also have a right to due process and the FOP is here to ensure that right is afforded to our members," the statement said. 

The sweeping probe by the DOJ was announced in April 2021 and is known as a "pattern or practice" investigation — examining whether there is a pattern of unconstitutional or unlawful policing inside the department. The city plans to sign a negotiated agreement with the Justice Department to be enforced in federal court; a federal officer will monitor the progress.

The Kentucky State FOP said in a statement Thursday morning that the "picture painted by the report does not represent the men and women of LMPD" disagreed with "most of the findings contained within the DOJ report...."

The local police union said it is still examining the report, but takes issue with its findings overall. "We feel very strongly that this report is an unfair assessment of the great work that is accomplished daily by the vast majority of LMPD officers. We also feel very strongly that this report should not go unchallenged and should be dissected for evidentiary value."

Here is a copy of the entire River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614 statement: 

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