Kentucky Issued A Search Warrant Reform. Louisville Police Aren’t On Board Yet

Law enforcement agencies in Kentucky have a new way to bring more transparency to the process of obtaining a search warrant, but police in Louisville aren’t using it. The Administrative Office of the Courts last month issued a revised search warrant form that provides designated space for judges to print their name below their signature. The previous form only provided space for a signature from judges asked to approve a warrant before it’s executed by police, and it’s often impossible to discern who signed the warrant, an investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and WDRB News found. The AOC made the new forms available to law enforcement agencies a few weeks after the report from KyCIR and WDRB. But court officials cannot mandate law enforcement use the forms. The Louisville Metro Police Department isn’t using the new forms, according to a review of recent search warrants at the Jefferson Circuit Court Clerk’s office. 

An LMPD spokesperson didn’t respond to questions sent via email about why officers aren’t using the new forms. A state courts spokesperson said the forms are available on an online portal that is accessible to any law enforcement agency that uses court documents, and a “must-read alert” was issued when the new forms were rolled out.

Pandemic Poses Unique Challenges For Protesters

89.3 WFPL News Louisville · Pandemic Poses Unique Challenges for Protesters
On Thursday afternoon, not long before the rain started, a crowd gathered in Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville. They’ve been here every afternoon, protesting the police killing of Breonna Taylor. 

As people come up to give speeches and lead chants, Rosie Henderson sits at the ready. 

“I’m wiping down the mics with disinfecting wipes,” said Henderson. “We’ve been as safe as we can, so nobody can say that we just out here protesting and not trying to be safe.”

Henderson has been out at the protests every evening, and she’s appointed herself chief safety stickler. She’s making sure everyone has masks and hand sanitizer. 

“If we’re going to be out here, we’ve got to be safe,” she said. “Because the coronavirus is real and it is going up every day.”

For nearly two months, downtown Louisville was a ghost town, as businesses and restaurants closed in an attempt to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Beshear Administration Ends Records Appeal, Will Pay KyCIR’s Legal Fees

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration has agreed to settle public records lawsuits filed by two state cabinets against the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The settlements mark the end of a legal struggle that began in November 2017, when KyCIR requested six years of sexual harassment complaints through Kentucky’s Open Records Act, which gives the public the right to access records kept by the state government. 

Under the previous administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, the Labor and Finance and Administration cabinets sought to keep sealed the names of state employees who were accused of sexual harassment in cases where an internal investigation didn’t substantiate the allegations. The terms of the settlement will require the state to pay KyCIR about $53,000 in legal fees and release the unredacted versions documents sought by KyCIR, according to KyCIR’s attorney Jon Fleischaker. 

“The public has a right to know what their government is doing, and KyCIR will always fight for that right,” Louisville Public Media President Stephen George said in an email. “I applaud the Beshear administration’s acknowledgement of the transparency that state law requires.” 

Louisville Public Media is the parent company of KyCIR. Most state agencies complied with KyCIR’s initial 2017 request for documents related to sexual harassment allegations against state employees, although the transparency of their responses varied.