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Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel picked as Louisville's permanent police chief

Interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel has been selected as the Louisville's permanent police chief following a nationwide search.

Her selection was confirmed by former Courier Journal Executive Editor Bennie Ivory, who attended a meeting with Mayor Craig Greenberg on Thursday morning prior to a noon press conference about new LMPD leadership.

Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel
Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel

The announcement comes after a hiring process that drew criticism, including over decisions not to name finalists and requiring the seven members of Greenberg's advisory panel to sign nondisclosure agreements about the search.

Gwinn-Villaroel will remain head of a department that will almost definitely be operating under a court-monitored consent decree. It would follow a Department of Justice report that found LMPD engages in a pattern and practice of violating federal law and the Constitution. Among other things, the report found the department has used excessive force and discriminated against Black residents.

The decree, a federal court-approved settlement, would mandate steps to be taken by the department to improve. There is no set time limit on how long the decree will last, and the department can only be released from the oversight if it meets the decree's goals and the court finds it in compliance.

Erika Shields, who became chief in January 2021 under then-Mayor Greg Fischer, stepped down when Greenberg took office. Gwinn-Villaroel served as Shields' deputy before being appointed interim chief. The two were co-workers in Atlanta prior to joining LMPD.

Shortly after Gwinn-Villaroel was appointed interim chief, she mentioned being interested in applying for the permanent position if she felt like she was the right fit for the department.

"There’s no ego involved with me,” Gwinn-Villaroel said in January. “I want this department to flourish and to thrive.”

Reach reporter Eleanor McCrary at or on Twitter at @ellie_mccrary.

Article originally published through Courier Journal.


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