Mayor Gorton’s Promise for Police Reform Board Remains Unfulfilled 2 Years Later

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s Beth Musgrave reported Monday that a new city board announced over two years ago by Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton to examine past police disciplinary actions and make policy, has never been created. Gorton’s Communications Director Susan Straub told the Herald-Leader the board was never appointed due to concerns raised by several parties and the belief that the timing was not right. The city instead focused on putting civilians on the disciplinary review board.

In addition, Musgrave reported the city’s Commission on Racial Justice and Equality, which was appointed in July 2020, did not recommend the creation of a post-disciplinary police review board when it released its final findings in October 2020. Rev. Clark Williams, a member of the Black Faith Leaders who has advocated for police oversight reforms, expressed surprise at the disappearance of the post-disciplinary review board without any further dialogue.

Under state law, the city of Lexington cannot have an external citizens’ police disciplinary review board. To establish such a board, a change in state law is required, which has not happened. The city did, however, appoint two citizens to an internal police disciplinary review board as part of the negotiations of a new four-year police contract in 2021. The internal police disciplinary board consists of two members of the Fraternal Order of Police Bluegrass Lodge 4, five members of the police command staff, and two members of the public.

The new internal police disciplinary board, including its two citizen members, Allison Connelly and Darlene Barber, has not met since its creation in June 2022. According to Straub, disciplinary actions have been sent to the board, but the officers involved have either resigned or retired before the board could meet. Rev. Williams said that the Black Faith Leaders will be monitoring the operation of the new internal police disciplinary board.