To Serve, Protect, and Reflect? Exploring Racial Disparity in the Louisville Police Department

Briley Chambers, Carol Street, University of Kentucky Libraries, University of Kentucky, 410 Administration Drive, Lexington KY 40506

In 1979, Louisville, Kentucky, had a population that was 24 percent Black, but a police department that contained 93 percent white officers. Issues of discrimination in hiring, promoting, and assigning of personnel within the Louisville Division of Police led to a court ruling that 15 percent of the department should be Black, a percentage corresponding to the proportion of non-whites in the metropolitan area labor market. By analyzing an archival collection of court records relating to the case Louisville Black Police Officers Organization v. the City of Louisville in the Judge Charles M. Allen Papers at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center, research will uncover how the resulting consent decree affected the demographics of the department in the decades after the decision and how it affects current demographics. The collection is comprised of briefs, judgements, and correspondence related to this case, which aimed to improve employment opportunities for Black officers in Louisville. Through the study of these court records and papers of Judge Allen, who presided over the case, we can understand how the criteria for promotion eligibility affected non-white officers disproportionately. By analyzing the press releases and personal letters from officers and their families, we can better interpret the effect that employment standards had on law enforcement and its durability. Further research of Louisville city reports will uncover the long-term effects of affirmative action on the racial composition of the Louisville Division of Police and examine if the police department has reached the goals of the court ruling. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Briley Chambers

Institution: University of Kentucky

Type: Poster

Subject: Law & Legal Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5537