Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields announces she will step down in January

Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields will step down in January, less than two years after she took the job amid tensions over the department’s handling of Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by police.

Louisville Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg said Monday that he recently spoke to Shields and she offered to submit her resignation, giving Greenberg the opportunity to pick a new chief when his term begins on Jan. 2.

Shields took over in January 2021, months after the Taylor shooting and a summer full of street protests that called attention to the shooting and police treatment of protesters. She was the fourth chief to lead the department after Taylor was killed in March 2020. Former Chief Steve Conrad was fired and two interim chiefs served short terms in 2020.

Greenberg, a Democrat who won the mayor’s race earlier this month, said he would name an interim chief to serve beginning in January while the new chief is selected.

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“A search for a new chief of police will begin immediately,” Greenberg said Monday. “We will consider all applicants. I will seek the input of those on my transition team, as well as from other folks around our entire community.”

Crime in Kentucky’s largest city was a major topic during the mayor’s race won by Greenberg, and he also became a victim after surviving a shooting at his campaign office earlier this year. His opponent, Republican Bill Dieruf, had pledged to shake up the police department.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields at a news conference on Jan. 4, 2018, in Atlanta. Shields, who later was named the Louisville Police Chief in January 2021, says she is stepping down in January 2022 after less than two years in order for Louisville’s new incoming mayor to be able to select a new chief of the department.

Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields at a news conference on Jan. 4, 2018, in Atlanta. Shields, who later was named the Louisville Police Chief in January 2021, says she is stepping down in January 2022 after less than two years in order for Louisville’s new incoming mayor to be able to select a new chief of the department. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

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Greg Fischer, a Democrat, is leaving the mayor’s office after three terms. He presided over one of the most turbulent times in the city’s history, as a pandemic gutted the downtown business district and protesters took to the streets for months after Taylor’s death. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice charged three Louisville officers with conspiring to put false information in the warrant used to raid Taylor’s apartment.

Fischer thanked Shields in a media release for accepting the chief’s job during a “challenging time.” He said her focus on reducing violent crime helped to cut homicides by 14% and shootings by 30% over last year. Louisville had seen two years of record homicides in 2020 and 2021.

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Shields, who was Atlanta’s police chief before coming to Louisville, stepped down from the top Atlanta post in June 2020 after the death of Rayshard Brooks. Brooks was shot in the back by police in a restaurant parking lot after reports that he fell asleep at the wheel in a drive-thru lane. Shields was hired by Fischer after a panel unanimously selected her during a monthslong search process.

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