First Black Woman To Lead Louisville Police Suspended Amid Controversy Over Handling Of Sexual Harassment Claims

by Gee NY
Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel

Louisville’s police chief, Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, has been suspended over allegations of mishandling sexual harassment claims involving her officers, marking a significant development in the city’s law enforcement leadership.

Mayor Craig Greenberg announced the suspension on Wednesday, June 12, less than a year after Gwinn-Villaroel assumed the role as the first Black woman to lead the Louisville Police Department.

While clarifying that the chief herself was not implicated in the allegations, Greenberg stressed a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual misconduct within the Louisville Metro Government.

“The rules and policies are in place for a reason, and they need to be followed,” Mayor Greenberg stated during a press conference.

The controversy unfolded when Gwinn-Villaroel allegedly promoted Major Brian Kuriger to a top command position shortly after another major, Shannon Lauder, made a sexual harassment accusation against Kuriger during a meeting.

According to reports, the chief proceeded with the promotion despite Lauder’s explicit complaint.

Recordings from the meeting captured Gwinn-Villaroel asking Lauder about her ability to work with certain command staff members.

Lauder responded by accusing Kuriger of sexual harassment and stating her inability to work with him.

Despite the serious allegation, the chief reportedly proceeded with the promotion announcement for Kuriger without addressing Lauder’s concerns adequately.

Gwinn-Villaroel’s tenure as chief had previously been recognized for her handling of a mass shooting incident in 2023, where quick police response prevented further casualties.

However, her recent actions regarding the sexual harassment allegations have drawn sharp criticism, particularly in the aftermath of federal scrutiny of the Louisville Police Department’s handling of misconduct cases.

Following the high-profile shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville officers in 2020, the U.S. Justice Department conducted an investigation that highlighted systemic issues within the department, including deficiencies in responding to allegations of sexual misconduct among officers.

Responding to the controversy, Deputy Chief Paul Humphrey has been appointed acting chief while investigations proceed. The status of Major Kuriger’s promotion remains pending clarification from the department.

Attorney Jared Smith, representing Major Lauder, expressed concern over the recorded interaction, describing the chief’s demeanor as aggressive and indicative of leadership failures within the department.

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