LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Less than a week on the job, Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields is still taking stock of the department but indicated changes are on the horizon.
Shields, the former chief of the Atlanta Police Department, answered questions Monday on a wide range of topics and her vision for the police department.
On what she thinks of LMPD so far:
"I've enjoyed meeting the people," she said. "There's a lot of good work being done, and there's just a lot of folks who just want a direction. But it's been a very solid welcoming, and I'm happy. I'm hopeful.
I think whenever you've had a summer as they've had where you've just been on your heels the whole time and reacting, it's hard to have a direction when you find yourself in a reactionary mode day-in and day-out."
On the amount of officer's LMPD has:
"I believe there's like 250 vacancies, and so obviously, that's a good chunk of the work force," Shields said. "To really be immersed in the community like we need to close that hiring gap."
On officer retention and pay:
"It's an issue that far exceeds LMPD," Shields said. "It's national. Policing is not viewed as favorable right now for obvious reasons. So we're trying to rebrand the profession, because it is a great profession. It's a lot of fun, and it's very rewarding. I think what we have to do is focus on what we can do at LMPD. First off is investing in and assuring officers who are here of their value. It's far more costly when you find yourself in a cycle of attrition and people walking out the door. So for me, priority one internally is — of the many things I'm rolling out — is to assure people of their value and how I want them to stay here. I want them to enjoy their job. I have an obligation to take care of them to ensure that they are being compensated appropriately."
On strategy to deal with violent crime:
"I'm big proponent of targeting illegal guns, and I think it's imperative that the department be leveraging the intelligence," Shields said. "There's a very strong intelligence section to identify those individuals that we know are violent, repeat offenders who are engaged in bringing illegal guns to the street. Because it sets the tone for a neighborhood. It sets the tone for how the young kids get the guns. So I'm sure there will be some shifts. Exactly what? I don't know, because I haven't seen the 'slow chart' yet."
"The reality is, if you go after illegal guns, you are going after those individuals who are predisposed or have shown a willingness to commit violence. When you get them, you will also roll up into the narcotics. You have to triage it correctly, and I think if you are narcotics focused, you have the inverse model."
On why she wanted the job:
"LMPD was the only job that I pursued," Shields said. "I am absolutely honored to have gotten it, and I will tell you my reasoning was I was devastated when I read about Breonna Taylor. I was devastated as practitioner of law enforcement and public safety. It's not about LMPD. It's about this could have happened anywhere, and it shouldn't happen. I realized as someone who values the profession we had to get this right."
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