Louisville police chief resigns under scrutiny for handling of sexual harassment allegations

Republished from Kentucky Lantern

Louisville Metro Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel has resigned after being placed on administrative leave amid an investigation of her handling of sexual harassment allegations within the department. 

Paul Humphrey will serve as interim chief. (Louisville Metro Police Department)

Mayor Craig Greenberg announced Tuesday that the chief’s resignation was effective immediately. He appointed Acting Chief of Police Paul Humphrey, who had been leading the department while Gwinn-Villaroel was on leave, to serve as the interim chief. 

In a statement, Greenberg said Humphrey “is fully empowered to make the decisions necessary to reduce gun violence, improve public safety, manage the department, take disciplinary action and implement the policy and priority changes we agree are necessary, particularly surrounding sexual harassment and police misconduct.” 

The mayor also thanked Gwinn-Villaroel for her service. 

“The people of Louisville expect all of us in public service to work together with integrity to make our city safer, stronger and healthier, and I am confident Interim Chief Humphrey and his team at LMPD will do that,” Greenberg said. 

Gwinn-Villaroel was suspended less than two weeks ago as a harassment allegation became public. While she was not involved in the alleged conduct, an attorney representing the initial accuser Maj. Shannon Lauder said the chief became aware of her complaint against Maj. Brian Kuriger during a command staff meeting

In the days following, Sgt. Lauren Carby filed a lawsuit against LMPD and alleged sexual harassment from Lauder and her husband, Lt. Jeff Lauder. Another lawsuit was filed by officer Christine Silk, who accused officers Justin LeMon and Dale Cottongim of sexually harassing her multiple times. 

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg (Kentucky Lantern photo by Liam Niemeyer)

Greenberg and Humphrey said immediate changes would be made to LMPD’s sexual harassment policies and procedures to more clearly define sexual harassment, improve and expand the reporting process, implement new training and add support systems for employees who report sexual harassment. 

Greenberg said it was “the beginning of what I expect to be major improvements and transformative reforms at LMPD” and more announcements will follow.  

“Let me be abundantly clear: LMPD will not tolerate sexual harassment. We are implementing significant policy updates. We have begun enhanced training and are revising and improving our reporting and handling processes,” Humphrey said. “Additionally, a variety of support systems are available for employee wellness including through our Summit Wellness Center. We are committed to accountability and fostering a safe work environment that is welcoming where all employees feel comfortable and secure.”

Gwinn-Villaroel became the permanent chief in 2023 after serving as interim chief of the department. LMPD has had six different leaders since 2020. 

In that time frame, the department has gained national criticism for various incidents, including the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, while officers were serving a no-knock warrant and, more recently, arresting professional golfer Scottie Scheffler during the PGA Championship but the charges have been dismissed. 

The City of Louisville earlier this year began negotiating a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to correct civil rights violations by the LMPD.

Gwinn-Villaroel joined the department in 2021 as deputy chief. She previously worked at the Atlanta Police Department. 

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