Elected officials in Louisville, Ky., approved a controversial police union contract Thursday, as the city continued to face backlash from the police killing of Breonna Taylor and a lack of charges in connection with her death.
The Metro Council approved the three-year contract with the Fraternal Order of Police in a 16-10 vote. Opponents voiced concerns with officer accountability and transparency related to investigations and discipline, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Some council members said they approved the contract to attract quality officers. The starting salary for officers will increase from $35,000 to $45,000, and benefits will improve.
The department lost 155 officers this year — 63 retired and 92 resigned, union President Ryan Nichols said.
The most recent graduating class of recruits had 19 officers. Three already have dropped out, Nichols told the newspaper.
“Defund the police” protesters convened at City Hall to oppose the contract, Louisville TV station WAVE3 reported. Louisville has seen protests and riots since Taylor’s fatal shooting in March during a botched drug raid at her apartment.
None of the three officers involved were charged in her death. One was fired and faces wanton endangerment charges for shooting into a neighboring unit.
“We got a problem. We have a police force that has had many problems in the past, that has lost a lot of the public’s trust, but they’ve also lost their own internal morale and they are quitting in droves,” said Councilman David Yates, a Democrat who voted in favor of the contract. “And we’ve got to have a strong ready, willing, capable police force to serve our community.”
Councilman Bill Hollander, also a Democrat, voted no after expressing concern over investigations and discipline.
“I’m very afraid that the contract approved tonight and will continue to be extended with all of these provisions,” said Hollander, who voted no.
The contract is retroactive to July 1, 2018 — the expiration date on the last contract — and is in effect through June 30, 2021. Negotiations for the next contract are required to start no later than February, according to the Courier-Journal.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will decide whether to sign the contract into law, the news station reported.