Retired officer says DOJ’s report may impact recruiting of Black, minority officers

Retired Louisville officer D'Shawn Johnson says the number of black and minority officers may go down following the DOJ's report.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 7:00 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - After the eye-opening results from the Department of Justice investigation into LMPD, a former Louisville Police officer said now may be one of the hardest times to be an officer in Louisville.

Out of the 1,052 sworn members in LMPD, roughly 150 are black, but retired Louisville Officer D’Shawn Johnson says those numbers may take a fall in the coming months.

“Who wants to go to a team who’s on probation?”

Retired Louisville Police Officer D’Shawn Johnson said that’s the reality for LMPD right now after the DOJ’s report.

The news is now fueling the fire against police officers.

“You have every activist saying police are bad, police are bad, police are bad, police are bad but no one is saying hey, come on let’s join the force and let’s change it from within,” Johnson said.

That’s the mindset Johnson said he had joining the force in 1982 and a motivation most black officers seem to have prior to joining.

“Protect and serve and change from the inside,” Johnson said. “And that was the mindset and that’s why during my period it was quite a few African Americans that came unto the police department because they wanted to make the changes inside.”

Following Wednesday’s DOJ Report, Johnson said black officers may be surrounded by their counterparts but they may be feeling lonelier than ever.

“Let me explained this to you the best way I know how,” shared Johnson. “Right now they are feeling so isolated because as an African American police officer in a city like Louisville you are on an island all alone.”

He said black officers are not only feeling the pressure of being a cop, but also of serving the black community.

“You can be sitting in church, which has happened to me before and someone taps you on your shoulder and says hey, I want to talk to you about someone you arrested because that connection is there,” Johnson said. “Because you will be, as you said, treated as a what we used to call an ‘Uncle Tom’ by people like even your own family.”

And while he feels the changes to come are good for the department as a whole, the incoming loss of minority officers will be apparent.

“Is it good? Yes, because you will learn a lot more, you’ll get to rebuild a culture and you’ll be a part of the rebuilding process,” Johnson said. “You get to help rebuilding that culture. Now as an African American police officer, I think you’re going to lose those in droves.”

While Johnson feels LMPD will take a hit immediately following these reports, in the long run he believes the department will be better because of it.