Police Chief Erika Shields

Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields gives update on progress on recommendations in Hillard Heintze review during Louisville Metro Council's Public Safety Committee special discussion Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Police departments across the country are under strain. Many struggle to recruit officers or keep the ones sworn in, and Louisville Metro Police Department is no exception. 

"The profession has taken such a black eye in the last couple of years," said LMPD Police Chief Erika Shields, who opts to explore new recruitment tactics.

During Metro Council's public safety committee’s special discussion Wednesday evening, Shields provided an update on the Hillard Heintze report in the first hour. The 155-page assessment provides the police department 102 recommendations and 17 key findings, following last year’s Breonna Taylor protests and policing issues.

The Hillard Heintze report, released in January, includes 12 domains or areas of modernization:

  1. Data analysis
  2. Use of force and de-escalation
  3. Search and arrest warrants, crowd control
  4. Complaints against LMPD
  5. Early Intervention System (EIS)
  6. Community oriented policing
  7. Recruiting and hiring
  8. Promotion process
  9. Crisis intervention
  10. Bias Free Policing
  11. Procedural justice
  12. Department demographics

A major topic and crisis facing law enforcement is recruiting and hiring. Metro Council President David James asked Shields if she wants to use technology to help streamline and ease the application process.

"We are working to get a third-party independent vendor to develop unbiased impartial hiring applications,” said Shields.

In the meeting, Shields explained that LMPD does not see the applicants right away — candidates are vetted first to assess whether the applicant is suitable for employment.

"In my 25-plus years, I will tell you - there is an inherent bias of individuals that have the ability to modify a process dramatically without the person being aware of them doing it," said Shields.

The department plans to use hiring practices from across the country as shown in the Hillard Heintze report. Shields says the research data will help ensure that even the tests being required of applicants are not weeding out candidates. 

"Do you see an issue with the instrument that's being currently used for testing or is it more about the process?" Metro Council President David James asked Shields. 

"Both. I have concerns about how the actual test is being designed,” Shields answered. “We have to make things easy for applicants." 

From bringing the internal back log of cases from 70 to less than 50 and chipping away at the recommendations put forth by Hillard Heintze, Shields is hopeful more people will join the force.

"We are getting there," said Shields.

The new LMPD dashboard can be found here. To read the complete Hillard Heintze report, click here.

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