Louisville mayor names new interim police chief amid months of unrest

BY: EMILY SHAPIRO

(LOUISVILLE) — A new interim police chief was named in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday amid months of unrest in the city.

The new interim chief, Yvette Gentry, is a former member of the Louisville Police Department who brings the “strong community relationships” needed to lead until a permanent chief is named, Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Fischer said the city is hoping to name a permanent chief by end of the year. Robert Schroeder, who became interim police chief in June, is retiring. Gentry will start work on Sept. 14, working with Schroeder until he retires on Oct. 1.

Gentry, who was named deputy chief of the Louisville Police Department in 2011 before leaving in 2014, said she’s not applied for the permanent chief job.

She has served in the mayor’s administration and most recently worked at Metro United Way, a social services organization in Louisville.

“I am a leader and I know how to lead. I know this city. I love this city,” Gentry said at a news conference Monday.

Gentry said she wants the next chief to not be “rushed” into the role.

Gentry, who is Black, said, “I served 20-something years willing to die for a city that wouldn’t even make my son feel welcome.”

Louisville has endured months of chaos following the March death of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot dead by police while in her Louisville home. No officers have been charged in connection to her death.

“We gotta ask ourself: if Breonna Taylor’s name came across an application in this city, would she get an interview?” Gentry said. “[On a] board of influencers and decision-makers … does anybody look like her?”

David McAtee, a Black man who owned a Louisville barbecue restaurant, was shot dead by the National Guard while police converged on the scene of protests on June 1.

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was fired after it was announced there was no body camera footage available of McAtee’s shooting.

Before McAtee was shot, Conrad said he was planning to retire at the end of June after facing immense pressure following Taylor’s death.

The city’s protests stretched into this weekend, when far-right activists and those calling for justice for Taylor descended on Louisville during the Kentucky Derby.

Asked if it was important to hire a Black woman as interim chief, the mayor said at Monday’s news conference that it was “important we had someone that understood the department and [has] outside perspective, as well.”

Fischer said Gentry was selected because officials “wanted somebody right now that would represent some independence of viewpoint.”

“The fact that she is a trailblazer [with] regard to gender and race sends a strong message to the community,” Fischer continued.

To Louisville residents, Gentry said, “I know you don’t expect perfection … I believe you expect honesty and I’ll give you that.”

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