Dig Louisville, Ky. once made ambitious promises to transform its police department and mend its relationship with the Black community. Five years later, Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor in her home, kicking off a protest movement unlike anything the city had seen in decades.In a joint KyCIR/Newsy investigation, insiders and documents reveal the systemic barriers and choices made by city leaders and the Louisville Metro Police Department that led to its failure to meaningfully change. How did Louisville go from a national leader in policing to an epicenter of the movement for racial justice in the United States? Find out on the second season of Dig.
Dig

Dig

From 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Louisville, Ky. once made ambitious promises to transform its police department and mend its relationship with the Black community. Five years later, Louisville police killed Breonna Taylor in her home, kicking off a protest movement unlike anything the city had seen in decades.In a joint KyCIR/Newsy investigation, insiders and documents reveal the systemic barriers and choices made by city leaders and the Louisville Metro Police Department that led to its failure to meaningfully change. How did Louisville go from a national leader in policing to an epicenter of the movement for racial justice in the United States? Find out on the second season of Dig.

Most Recent Episodes

6: 'Who's Gonna Be Next?'

So much has changed since Louisville first proclaimed itself a model city for policing reform: the police chief was fired. The city was upended by protests and grief over Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee. But some things are the same: The anger. The frustration. The disconnect between the police and the community. In our season finale, city leadership makes a very familiar set of promises. Could 21st Century Policing work this time? Is it too late?

5: Say Her Name: Breonna Taylor

"Early this morning, we had a critical incident involving one of our officers who was shot and another person at the scene who was killed." When LMPD Chief Steve Conrad first described what happened in Breonna Taylor's apartment on March 13, 2020, he did not mention her by name. But the city would soon learn it — then the country, and then the world. What came next demonstrated how far LMPD had fallen from its ideals. Crowd control tactics in 21st Century Policing call for de-escalation — but in the wake of a particularly violent first night of protests in Louisville, LMPD officers settled into a routine of riot gear, tear gas and arresting protesters en masse.

4: Might As Well Appeal

For LMPD to become the police department it claimed to want to be, the department would have to recruit the best of the best, retain experienced officers, and effectively discipline and remove problem one. But LMPD's disciplinary system makes the latter hard to do. Former and current officers say the job can chew up and spit out people who want to do community policing — harming the most-policed communities in the process.

3: People, Places and Narcotics

Even as city leaders were making big promises about the model city they claimed Louisville was going to become, they were making decisions that undermined those policing reform goals. In 2016, there were 117 homicides in Louisville — at that point, the most in decades. Police responded with a "People, Places and Narcotics" strategy that targeted some Black neighborhoods with aggressive patrols.

Promises

In 2016, the police chief laid out his vision: Louisville was going to become the kind of place where everyone across the city, no matter what neighborhood they lived in, would get the same treatment from the police — policing that's about your protection, and safety. But that's not what happened.

The Eye of the Storm

Barbecue chef David McAtee, the man they called Yaya, was a staple at 26th and Broadway in Louisville's predominately Black West End. He was a friend to everyone who stopped by for a meal — including many police officers. For years, Louisville had claimed to be building bridges between police and Black communities. Yaya was one of those bridges. Here's what happened to him, and how.

Available Now... Dig Season 2

Louisville, Ky., the city now known for the police killing of Breonna Taylor, once made ambitious promises to transform its police department and mend its relationship with the Black community. Just five years before they killed Breonna Taylor in her home, Louisville considered itself a model city for police reform. In a joint KyCIR/Newsy investigation, insiders and documents reveal the systemic barriers and choices made by city leaders and the Louisville Metro Police Department that led to its failure to meaningfully change. How did Louisville go from a national leader in policing to the face of a national movement protesting the police? Find out in the next season of Dig, coming soon.

The Hearing

Jen Sainato had been waiting for this day for a long time. She'd woken up early, put on her black striped suit, and drove five hours to attend the Louisville Metro Council's public safety committee meeting. The council had called the police to answer questions about their handling of rape cases, in the wake of our story about Jen's case. When Jen walked into the council chamber, the police were already settled in at the front of the room: two press people, a few men in suits, and Lt. Shannon Lauder — the head of the special victims unit, who'd been called by the council to explain why her department clears so few rape cases by arrest, and so many "by exception." The eight metro council members in attendance were seated as well, looking out at the room from their elevated seats. And in the audience sat the survivors — women who had reported a rape to the Louisville Metro Police Department. Women who were inspired by Jen's story to come out and seek their own answers. For most of them, this hearing was as close as they would get to their day in court. Visit kydig.org and donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.

Update: Prosecution... Declined?

It's been two months since we released the first season of Dig. And a lot has changed: city leaders are calling the police department to account, and there have been some changes in Jen Sainato's rape case that we did not see coming. Visit kydig.org and donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.

Cleared By Exception

Episode 4: In the final episode of this investigation, we learn more about Jen Sainato's rape case - why it was closed, and how much evidence the police really had against the man she says raped her. (Note: This episode includes description of a rape and injuries sustained from a rape.) Donate to support this and future seasons of Dig.