Erika Shields, the former chief of the Atlanta Police Department, stepped down from her post last year after the fatal shooting of Black man Rayshard Brooks by an officer. Now, Ms. Shields will head another police department with a checkered history of its treatment of Black citizens after she was sworn in Tuesday (Jan. 19) as the chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
As reported by local outlet WLKY, Shields was sworn in after the LMPD undertook a nationwide search for a new chief in the wake of its troubles surrounding the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. Former LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was fired amid the outrage of Taylor’s death and the ongoing protests that erupted nationwide in support of Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Jacob Blake, and others who have been shot by police.
Shields, who resigned last June after the Brooks shooting, has claimed that she stepped down from her post in Atlanta due to not wanting to be a distraction. However, Shields willingly stepped into the role of chief of the LMPD as it wrestles with the fallout from Taylor’s death and glaring critique of how Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron has handled the matter.
WLKY writes that Hanna Drake, a local activist, referred to Shields’ hiring as a “slap in the face” and betrays the work and continued healing that is taking place in Louisville and across the nation.
Shields has promised to meet with local activists and leaders across the city in order to bridge the wide gaps between police and the community but the damage may prove to be too deep to resolve swiftly, if at all.