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Activists urge more changes in Lexington's city budget

Posted at 7:21 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 21:27:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The shooting and killing of Daunte Wright by police during a traffic stop sparked rejuvenated activism and calls for change in Lexington.

"We're exhausted and it continues to happen," said activist April Taylor with LPD Accountability.

After months of protests following the death of George Floyd, racial justice plans were initiated in cities across the country, like Mayor Linda Gordon's Commission on Racial Justice and Equality. Activists in Lexington like Taylor feel not enough is being done soon enough.

"There are some municipalities, and some entities who made promises that changes would occur, that we just needed to be patient. And when it continues to happen, we're like 'okay, how long do you expect us to wait.' And so when it continues to happen I think people feel like they have a right to say how many more people do we have to bury? Do I have to wait until it's my son or my daughter or my mother or my father, or even me," said Taylor.

The mayor's office and Lexington police tell LEX 18 that all of those 54 recommendations that were made are being addressed, already implemented, or are out of their authority to make happen. Meanwhile activists are still saying that they don't think anything is changing.

"How, where and when," said activist Jay Calhoun with Cooperation Lexington and The People's Movement. "Again I say, it seems to be more so about talk than action. You can tell us anything you tell anybody anything and expect for them to believe it, but as an activist, I want to see the results and actions behind what you're telling me."

For Calhoun, it's about showing the community what changed and not leaving up to them to track down the progress.

"It would be nice if the people in the street could know what was going on behind closed doors and actually have an input of what is going on behind closed doors and see fruition in these recommendations that they say that they're implementing so well," he said.

Activist Ida Warford with Stop the Violence Lex feels like progress has been made but not what they were looking for.

“They’re just giving the people what they want to hear. They really haven't really done nothing for like the community wise. We’re still just waiting to see when they will do what we asked for, and they still haven't done it,” said Warford.

LEX 18 talked to the mayor's office and LPD and here are some of the big things they've already done.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Police Transparency Website

  • Council approved in March that body-worn cameras will expand to entire police force. Additional cameras have been purchased, and it is anticipated that they will arrive and be fully deployed across the police force by late summer 2021. https://www.lexingtonky.gov/body-worn-cameras

Recommendation #3: Officers be required to wear body worn cameras

  • The acquisition of technology that allows for automatic activation of body-worn cameras when a taser or weapon is drawn have been included in the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed Budget.

Recommendation #3: Officers be required to wear body worn cameras

  • Police training for de-escalation techniques is ongoing and continuing, especially as it relates to use-of-force incidents.

Recommendation #5: Reviews of Police de-escalation and use of force

  • Strengthening the current anti-retaliation policy is being included in the pending update to Police policies.

Recommendation #6: Anti-retaliation policy against complainants

  • Enhancement of information in Police reports, specifically information related to searches where a person was handcuffed but not arrested, is complete, following a Police Executive Order (an immediate change to an existing policy before it can be formalized) issued by Chief Weathers dated October 12, 2020.

Recommendation #8: Enhanced information in police reports

Recommendation #9: Enhance Community Relations

  • Professors at Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Cincinnati have been consulted and asked for recommendations and input on how to improve providing of reports and analysis data.

Recommendation #10: Police to provide reports and analysis

Recommendation #11: Submit information to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection

Recommendation #12: Recruit new officers for the Lexington Police Department and Fayette County Sheriff’s office based upon the recommendations from the publication Hiring for the 21st Century Law Enforcement Officer

  • The city is collaborating with other stakeholders and social service agencies to establish a Sobering Center. This Center would provide an option for an alternative to detention for citizens cited for being under the influence.

Recommendation #16: Sobering Center

  • LPD is reviewing other models with Dean of the University of Kentucky, College of Social Work, in order to be able to effectively and successfully divert 9-1-1 calls related to addiction, mental health, and homelessness to professionals outside of law enforcement. Police are already working with New Vista and their Community Outreach team to utilize those resources as appropriate.

Recommendation #15: Establish 911 Diversion Plan-Pilot

  • Bias Training for Police has been enhanced.
    • The bias training module has been updated.
    • The training was submitted to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and approved to teach.
    • The training will be utilized during the next new hire recruiting class.

Recommendation #13: Enhance and Establish Bias Training and Evaluation