The police-related deaths of George Floyd and Louisville resident Breonna Taylor have sparked mass protests in recent weeks.
The Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd's death are facing prosecution.
During a recent conversation, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron gave an update on whether Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in Taylor's death will also face charges.
Editor's Note: The transcription below has been slightly edited for clarity.
Our office has been working with the Public Integrity Unit... they have been working on their investigation. It's ongoing. I'm under the impression and understanding from the Public Integrity Unit, that they will be completing their investigation here in the near term. And that we will have the completed investigation, and then we will be able to move forward and make subsequent decisions about our next steps as it relates to any prosecution.
In recent weeks, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad lost his job after the David McAtee shooting, the Courier Journal has reported key innacuracies within the police report detailing the Breonna Taylor shooting, and there have been reports of tear gas, pepper spray and pepper balls used inapporpriately. When you look at the scene from LMPD, do you see a broader issue that needs addressing?
I think that, you know, what I've said is that we need to make way for legitimate protests and peaceful protests. And I think, by and large, we've seen that from our citizens here in the Commonwealth, and across the country. But we have to also make sure that we maintain law and order, and so it is a delicate balance. I recognize that, you know, it is a difficult situation that we've experienced in this country. And the way that, you know, folks are peacefully protesting, I appreciate, but at the same time, law enforcement has a responsibility to make sure that we're maintaining order in our societies. And what I was most encouraged by is, in the last week or so, I think I've seen law enforcement lock arms with some of the peaceful protesters. And so that's a great encouragement to me as to how we'll be able to move forward together.
As one of the few Black Attorney Generals to serve nationwide, do you feel there's an added pressure right now to comment on the state of police relations with minority communities?
Well, I certainly have a responsibility to be an honest broker and a bridge builder in the conversation between Black and Brown communities, and in our law enforcement. I am the chief law enforcement officer here in the Commonwealth. And I take that responsibility seriously. Look, as I noted earlier, peaceful protesters in peaceful protests by Black and Brown communities and those that are in alignment on legitimate interests and concerns are totally appropriate, protected by our Constitution. I understand those concerns. And I think it's right to raise awareness around them. And at the same time, from a law enforcement perspective, we have to maintain law and order in our society. And so when you hear conversations about defunding police, I don't think that's a productive way to proceed moving forward together.
Do you feel like you have the President's support when it comes to police reform and repairing police-community relations?
Well, the conversation that I was a part of at the White House was a conversation about how can better engage and perform better policing across this country, with our Black communities, and so the President and his team, all the respective law enforcement agencies that were represented at this roundtable certainly recognize the moment and understand that there has to continue to be better relationship building with our communities of color and better engagement, better community policing. And so, I think the White House understands that, I think our law enforcement community understands that, and they want to, you know, make sure that they are adequately representing every community. And so I think everyone's at the table with good intentions to do the right thing by all of our communities here in the country.
Switching gears a little bit, where do you stand on the reopening of the state's economy, amid concerns that there may be a coming spike in COVID-19 cases?
Well, I think, if you look here in the Commonwealth, we've got an unemployment rate that's nearly 45% of our workforce that has applied for unemployment benefits. And so, I think we have to continue to strike the right balance between safety and concern of the health of our citizens versus the need to reopen our communities and let people get back to work. The unemployment benefits program here in Kentucky has had some huge issues. I know some folks are still not receiving their payments under that program. And so it has caused some complications and issues. And so folks need to get back to work. You know, I think people recognize that this is a serious challenge with COVID-19. But at the same time, we can't continue to keep people locked in their homes. So I am for reopening it as quickly as possible.
Again, our health experts have a role to play in this conversation. But we also need to be very mindful of the long-term impact that this is having on all of our communities across the Commonwealth, and across the country, and the businesses that are impacted by this, the small businesses that won't be able to open back up, the employees there aren't going to be able to go back and resume their normal work schedules. Those are challenges that have to be seriously taken into consideration as well. And so I want, you know, our folks to be able to sustain themselves, and sustain their families. And so it is again, a delicate balance that we have to strike, but I am for reopening as quickly as we possibly can.
Is there a certain level of a surge in cases where you see yourself in the future possibly supporting another shutdown?
Well, I am, you know, I think we'll rely on the health experts for those conversations. But that is a part of the larger conversation of what we are willing to consider in terms of reopening. And so I want to obviously be mindful of what our health experts say, but we also need to look at to the daily consequences of locking down our cities and our states, and how that's impacting the psyche and morale of our communities, and how it's impacting our folks' pocketbooks and their abilities to take care of their families. And so, it is a part of a larger conversation that we have to have as we move forward.