Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel Becomes the First Black Woman Police Chief of Louisville

According to Newsday, Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, the recently appointed police chief in Louisville, Kentucky, is the first Black woman to hold a full-time post in the troubled agency, giving the department renewed hope after years of criticism in the aftermath of the police shooting of Breonna Taylor in 2020.

Gwinn-Villaroel, 49, has been acting as interim chief since January, when her predecessor, Erika Shields, stepped down as part of a recent round of leadership changes.

She is the seventh person to lead Louisville’s police department since Chief Steve Conrad was fired in June 2020, following the death of a well-known restaurant owner during protests that summer, according to The New York Times.

Greenberg, who was elected mayor last year, declared in December that Gwinn-Villaroel would serve as acting chief when Shields announced her resignation in January.

“This is a difficult task. And it’s become evident over the last few months that the best person for the position is already on the job,” the mayor stated during a news conference.

Gwinn-Villaroel also demonstrated leadership during the April mass shooting at a downtown bank, when one of her officers was shot and injured.

Following the announcement in March by the US Justice Department that Louisville police had engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discrimination, the newly appointed chief faces challenges in restoring community trust and recruiting new officers to a force with approximately 250 job openings.

Following an investigation prompted by Taylor’s shooting, Attorney General Merrick Garland made the declaration.

According to the report, the Louisville Police Department “discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities,…..uses excessive force,” and “conducts searches based on invalid warrants.”

Furthermore, it claimed that the department violates the rights of persons who engage in protected speech, such as the public rallies in the city during the summer of 2020 in response to the death of Breonna Taylor.

Gwinn-Villaroel has pledged to focus on rebuilding community trust and reducing violent crime in the city.

“We understand that we have to continue to work on those relationships and build upon that community trust that we’re just working on every day,” she said during a news conference. We are committed to ensuring that we get it properly.”

Pamela Smith was also recommended earlier this month as the next police chief of Washington, D.C., following a trend of women in key jobs in the US police force, How Africa reported. Smith’s nomination came as the District faced mounting worries about crime this summer.

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