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tv   Louisville Police Chief Discusses Public Safety  CSPAN  July 15, 2021 8:30am-8:59am EDT

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kennedy. watch american history tv and booktv every weekend on c-span2. to fight a full schedule on your program guide or visit >> up next on c-span, louisville, kentucky, police chief erika shields talks about the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on crime, preventing gun laws, and measures police can take to prevent crime. she spoke at an event hosted by the "washington post." >> hello and welcome to "washington post live." i'm tom jackman, criminal justice reporter with the "washington post." today is my pleasure to welcome legal police chief erika shields, as we continue our conversation about the rise in violent crimes around the country affecting public safety and the role of policing. chief shields was previously the police chief in atlanta. thank you for joining us, she.
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>> thanks for having me. i appreciateth it. >> gladly. i have no use question for you as you would expect and will start off with the crime up in louisville but the toll it unique. crime is up in atlanta where your present work for 25 years. crime is up to washington. crime is up in virtually every big city. soon, homicides up. recently he noted homicides rose 92% in louisville last year and there on the right now. i think you think you had 104 so far this year. the total astros 170. why is this happening next after so many years of declines we used to see these stats steadily going down year after year. what started the change in 2020 which is continued t into 2021? >> i appreciate that and i think you're asking the right question, that is what is different? we've got to find a solution, figure out where is the
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aberration. when ien look at the label, it'a two what i see in atlanta and georgia and that his first off in the southern states were you very lax gun laws, it does lend itself to high proliferation of illegal weapons on the street. you lay on top of that there is a post covid component to it. individuals who were already marginalized were further set off to the side, in particular when you talk about kids now. if you have young people who not have the build in their lives, very often that sanctuary is a school, girls or book club, big brothers, big sisters. now you have a bunch of children, they don't have any place to be or anything to do. a person. so now we have the illegal guns. we have had kids with a bue time on their hands.
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we have a real backlash against policing, which in turn has prompted what you are seeing is in many areas, and i really think vx in louisville, a reluctance by the office to self-initiate his activities to be proactive. it's not that they are at the community or they don't want to police. this is not something should be -- it's really, last you put them in a massive space within a short the committee wants them deployed. they are concerned that if they're involved in use the force they would be immediately dignified. they are aware of the volume of guns on the street and have to use force. the market difference you are
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seeing is, one is the removal of services for kids, and two, if police were reactive and the only way you deter crime is it you insert yourself in it as a cop and disrupt it ahead of time, and that has not been occurring. >> you touched on about five different things i plan to ask you about. let's go first to proactiveed policing. you talked about how that's crucial, and so last month you launched executive team engagement to get your commanders out in thent communiy to encourage proactive policing. you've been out there, too. how has that god? what if you learned? it's only been three or four weeks you been doing this but how has that going for you so far? >> so previously i think as a cheap you always have to get what the issue is that you are facing. there are similarities but the
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issues i have original from the ones i have -- hear what i've encountered was officers just will not confident, are not -- that the command leadership, the administration, the community, city council will supportra the. there's a a real reluctance, a real hesitancy to step forward and step out. on top of that layer on top of that high-volume of resignation. what i realized lacking is just a true beliefly in the commandes that we will fight for them and say what they did, they had to do. and no amountat of messaging tht i was putting forward was going to resolve that, as much as -- but on the bulletproof vest, the radio, we will go out and do patrols and stuff. we pulled details, people, we're
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pulling across all of the divisions, all agencies because it occurred to me that the message starts to make it through thehe different parts of the counties in the cities, and we pulled together the detailed, myself included, , we were policing with them so that they see first hand that no, we do understand the decision making your having to do. for me it's been a great opportunity to get to see firsthand how many guns are on the street. so we done the detailed in the last two weeks and we done the detailed five times and seized 26 guns, and those are just the guns that people don't drive off with legally. it's very interesting because like you see it and hurt all the time but seeing firsthand some of the weaponry we were coming across it was really unsettling.
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and so it's been very good. we need to continue in it but i don't think it's coincidental. we had been seeing homicides almost every night unfortunately. we started the details and we went eight days without homicide, and i directly believe that was result of the engagement shown by the officers, and i'm really appreciative of it. >> let's talk about guns. gun purchases were way up everywhere. are there fixes ton gun laws tht you support and which could pass, could actually make a difference? >> that's the key, to pass. i've always tried as the chief to take the middle road because i know i have an obligation to serve all constituents. i will say though that there has just been such a lack of common sense on some of the laws we have seen passed in recent years. and and i ran into this in at,
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right into it here, and why does someone walk around with an assault rifle in a city park? why do they need to walk around with an assault rifle on city streets? i think anybody could stand up and say that is what the constitution had in mind. no, get your head out of the plant holder. i think there's definitely things if we put down swords and really say we want to have a policy that improve the safety of all americans can we can come to the table with something that is become so politicized. so i think there's background but there also is a ground of like i really hope, i really hope the department of justice will expand a platform to start looking at those cities that are experiencing these enormous upticks in crime or those areas that mass shooters to use ofe
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judiciary is operating. it is imperative that somebody start demanding transparency from either the da's office, the judges, the system. because what i will tell you is almost without fail, the violent repeat offenders that my folks are arresting, and the key operative word isth repeat, have been arrested repeatedly for being in possession of an illegal firearm and not been authorized to have firearm. if you really want to change the narrative around policing and lower the level of officer involved shootings, you have to start holding accountable those individuals who have shown theys are predisposed to committing violence to have guns and others. that is happening. that's not just a local issue. when they go to major conferences, this is an issue where all struggling with. what we need to be seeing is how
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many of these cases, how many days of the week are judges working? are the requiring a bargains? are they going to trial? how many times have people been allowed for first offender status? this is unfair to our constituents. >> there are a couple, you raised about 14 points there but the key ones at the end are that i think the courts were responding to this sort of backlash on overincarceration, and then covid came along and they were trying to clear the jails so that people didn't die in jail. do you feel like the courts have lost their sense of balance and that day, i mean, a lot of them haven't gotten back up to 100% to speak. they've got gigantic backlogs,
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they get excuses out the planter, as you would say. why do you think the courts haven't, you know, you're right, a lot of chiefs have criticized the court for being slow to respond. i don't think they understand why repeat offenders are getting released. where's the disconnect here in terms of the courts getting back to where they were, or is it that they responded to criminal justice reform by letting too many people out? >> so what i would say is this. yes, people, there was mass overincarceration in the '80s and '90s all day long, and i'm not going to defend. the fact of the matter is at the time it was convenient for people in jail, and prison for substance abuse issues, issues when now should be treating.
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you will see myself and others deter amendatory sensing because it be that they can to get with the issue was. however, what we're talking here are people -- this issue is of course going on long before covid. long before covid. covid is no way, shape, or form even a part of the excuse process. it's provided an excuse this past year and maybe contributed somewhat as the jails tied to empty out but no, , it's benefit for a long time. i think that when there's a lack of transparency in any institution, whether it's the government or the private i sector, the whole truth -- with any many of these jurisdictions have become so politicized that there's not even the time or attention being given that there should be. anyve of them are fast tracked.
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im don't think they even look o what the prior art. i think you see negotiation between the judges and the jails to ensure populations have comen down. so i think there's a much larger underworld that has to be looked at, and it's not that it is corrupt but the results have created a very unproductive system. >> sort of along those lines people of criticized the decriminalization of certain low-level offenses by reform i did prosecutors not arresting marijuana, you know, trespassing, low-level stuff, and that cities run by democrats in particular are being hit hard by crying. he is crime becoming a political issue? do you think decriminalization of low-level crimes as contributing to the spike in crimes? >> it would be convenient to say
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that, but again what a look at the folks that we are arresting for homicides, for shooting at others, when we look at the victims were engaged in these violent activities, it's not low-level activities they are engaged in. it's almost always connect to some sort of force, a weapon. it may s be drug driven in terms of the been dealing in drugs, but when you start talking about an ounce of weed, criminal trespass, that's not going to change the violent crime narrative. i think what constituents -- what mayors need to be considered of is if someone is trying to run the business and a person is arrested for criminal trespassing, actually disrupting the ability to make a living and the good atak it you, they walkn one door and go back up the other day and go right back out and run the business.
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that can impact your livelihood. i think to come to the table and say we want decriminalize but there's no solution, it's kind of the responsible. how are you going to shore up that gap when you know there's a problem and you don't want to just be a policeman. what is a solution? that's were a number of mayors or governors what have you have come up short. they have not thought through what the trickle-down is going to be. >> you have targeted gun violence with something called intelligence led policing to interrupt the violence. how does that work? >> so the last thing that i want is forhe my officers to just randomly go out, stop a bunch of cars, stop a bunch of people and hope they stumbled on something. that is a recipe for trouble and, quite frankly, it's part of the reason lapd is in the process with doj.
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intelligence led policing is identifying those individuals who are engaged in violence, known violent offender,, identifying who their network of associates is, whether or not there's gang violence, whether or not we're seeing connections drugs go into the city. it's usually all open source data available. it is focusing on specific individuals violent crime. so you have a very direct order, directed, to your troops about who thiso as you are looking f, because this is also what your looking for. so in other words, searching a vehicle shouldn't be the exception not the norm. right? so it'sioio understanding that u are really going to the higher level charge, and that, back to your point, when you give yourself a high five because you some weed off of someone, no, that's embarrassing, right? that's not going to change the
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direction crime in the city. it's really a messaging what her focus is and this fast to get their. >> you mentioned a couple minutes ago cindy mental health clinicians into scenes where people are in crisis rather than the police. we had a recent story where the clinicians were not always so thrilled to jump into a hot scene without police help. you got something going called the deflection initiative. how does that work and have you had enough time to drive in louisville yet? >> so which do not up and running here yet. we had something similar in atlanta and i i agree with you. i think what you'll hear is -- we want caseworker squat and what pleased to be a part of it here the reality of it is when you're dealing with issues that involve mental health and substance abuse, homelessness, you just quite never know what you're going to get.
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i situation may readily go south. you have to construct it in such a way that the safety of the caseworkers -- and if they feel they need a police presence that has to be afforded to them. but the idea is that when the 911 call comes in you have dispatchers who are trained and triaging out those issues that are more representative of socioeconomic concerns. so you know the questions that ask. they understand they get their mind around so it's not just sending the police and having police make an assessment. done properly and triaged appropriate you're going to have a core group of 911 calls that will never present -- the caseworker can go out and meet the address it. minuets on the fall and in the gray area where you're not sure if there's going to be a confrontation of violence. so the caseworker and the please
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meet up, they go in together to problem solve. you know what, i have a lot of hope for it. we did something similar to it in atlanta and it worked fantastic. we call it the free arrest a version program. it was coordinated very heavily with nonprofits and issue that went on what we ran into there was we did not have the capacity for the number of individuals that need helpp in atlanta, and so that's what the university of louisville is building up a program here and that's oneth message i keep pushing to the is, be careful because the demand they will exceed what you can meet, and you don't want to fall off in that space. >> you mentioned the justice department coming to town w to begin an investigation to the department in the wake of the breonna taylor case. how did your folks respond to h that news, and how has that been proceeding so far? >> so what i will say is from the time i i came here, at least
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my command staff, i message it would be fortunate if they didn't, but we had to be realistic and understand they probably would. i think from a command level it probably wasn't so alarming. to the degree that got down to the troops probably not so much. i think for the troops it was another punched in the gut. they just have really been pummeled over the last year. and listen, a lot of it they brought up, okay? but also a lot of it didn't and a lot of the stuff, the hatred pushed their way is not okay. i'll say that all day long. i take pride in the police department. i take pride in officers and some of thein stuff they have bn subjected to is not acceptable. that being said i think it would really demoralizing because it's just like here's another layer,
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here's another, how are people going to see us. that's one thing thatly really surprised me. when i started the job i was certain people would not want to work. just knowing what they had been through, i figured cops would want to work, and yet from dayay one what i've run into is this department that all these officers that they want to work, they want the community to be proud of them, they want to do the job they just want direction. it's a very prideful department. the doj was a gut check, but that being said what it can mean gidget and they asked to look at, what the concerns are it's nothing that i've not heard anything that it did not already expect and i don't think that's only a some level been public. it's okay. it's not going to be easy. it's not going to be inexpensive but this department will be stronger once it navigates
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through it. >> in atlanta you step down as chief after one of your officers shot and killed rayshard brooks, menu is running away from them in a wendy's parking lot and package only after the death of george floyd, sparked more protest, a man and spotlight. are there some larger lessons that you taken away from that episode and from your time in atlanta that made you a better chief? >> i think there's always lessons, lessons every day. what i would say to folks is every incident is different. what you're going to see and what you're seeing whether such a hesitancy to take the officer to trial is rayshard brooks comm his death absolute was the tragedy. what i will say is he fought
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with the officers. the situation became escalated over and over, and so what you have to figure out is are we going to get into a space, because this is what i would ask, are we going to get into space where individuals who know our dui, that would let them go as well? saw think what i realized is there's some really, there's some really differing opinions on how policing should be done beyond the obvious. and i think so there's a much larger conversation that we have to somehow, we have to bet out what things are going well. that's just such a tricky space to get into because i'm fairly certain that mothers against drunk drivers would have it very different view onn that. you know what, there's stuff that i have taken away everyday for my job that i do differently, but the one thing
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that really stuck out to the after the rayshard brooks killing and when i look at the other incidents i had in atlanta and incident i had here, and i wish i pushed it harder and i'm trying to push it here, i don't think we invest enough in officers in requiring them to become comfortable and in tactics. while technology has been wonderful, it is also allowed us to become complacent in a number of ways. our civilians dash off as it did to getsw out of the patrol calln answer call. reliant on pepper spray, tasers, paintball guns, what havetr you, you have got to -- pepper ball guns. it's allowed them to not have that level of comfort please did when i came through with hand-to-hand combat here and by combat, i mean firm grip holds, put some on the f back of the patrol car, maneuvering their
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album to you can get them in custody. you just see the tactics, because look, as cops you're going to have to do with confrontation. there is a reason we train people the way we do. it doesn't go well all the time. i would love for it but it doesn't come as reality. but as a comp how are you going to handle it when the person resist arrest? what i see is officers whether you live in atlanta and here, they don't know how to fight. i don't mean chokehold. i mean just getting the person custody without the situation escalating, and so i know that when i left atlanta and i felt like gee, how did we get it so large city departments that you connect to people want to be good and something, something like that, you really have to be trained. we had here, i know running up
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on time, we have this professional instructor at our academy and he teaches jujitsu. he's world-renowned. i'm trying to get it and the recruits were all taught in service by what the department, the city to pay for people to go twice aeo week. the problem is how to get people to goo who won't go? i went to that the class ts guy is teaching. i felt empowered after one class, one class. it was like that's what i need, the coffers so you don't feel like you to pull out your gun or your taser, do you know what i mean? so that's myn? next challenge. >> i can ask you many more questions just about that. that was fascinating, but we're out of time. thank you very much, chief, for speaking with us. we really appreciate it. and thank you, the audience, for joining us. today at 2 p.m. join my colleague page winfield cunningham for a conversation
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