LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Protesters in Louisville and around the country are calling for an overhaul of the way police are trained, focusing more on bias awareness and deescalation.
Alex Payne, a retired Kentucky State Police officer, said better training must be prioritized.
"I think it’s more important now than ever," Payne said.
"Topics like firearms training, active shooter stuff, driving, defensive tactics," Payne explained.
While bias and deescalation training are included as options, Payne said they’re not required by law, meaning it’s up to local departments to decide their own training.
"You can never get enough training," said Barry Wilkerson, St. Matthews Police Department chief.
Wilkerson said his officers’ training far exceeds the state’s 40-hour a year requirement, with deescalation courses mandatory.
"And that includes how to use it, when you use it, what methods can you use to de-escalate situations," Wilkerson said.
Among the departments we contacted — including LMPD, Indiana State Police, and local departments in St. Matthews, Shively and Jeffersontown — they all told us they meet or exceed state requirements.
- LMPD: 40 hours of training annually. Last year, all officers had 16 hours of deescalation training.
- ISP: 40 hours of training annually/of that 11 hours are for deescalation training.
- St. Matthews PD: 70+ hours of training annually/of that 10+ hours are for deescalation/bias training.
- Shively PD: 48 hours of training annually/of that 1 hour is for bias/deescalation training.
- Jeffersontown PD: 70+ hours of training annually/of that 10+ hours are for deescalation/bias training.
Still, some say that's not enough.
Dwayne Freeman, a 21-year-old protester, wants more accountability. He said he was arrested on May 31 for protesting and violating curfew, calling police response needlessly violent.
"And we have to know the curriculum in which they are training and the things they are doing," he said.
Louisville Urban League President Sadiqa Reynolds said she also wants more interpersonal training, with courses targeted to what individual officers need.
“A particular officer who has been reprimanded for any number of things should have some specified training, and not just once but be made to repeat that,” Reynolds said.
Wilkerson said going forward, his goal is to create a culture of inclusiveness.
"I think that’s a start, create that dialogue," said Wilkerson.
Over in Indiana, David Henderson, Indiana State Police’s public information officer, said more bias and deescalation courses will be offered online.
“I think we can always strive to be better and to do better,” Henderson said.
Even though we found many departments in our area are exceeding state requirements, protesters we interviewed want more personalized training for police, and more communication about what they’re learning and how it’s being taught. Police told us it’s a work in progress.