A Black woman has been named the interim police chief of Louisville, Kentucky, a city beset by unrest following the police killing Breonna Taylor in March.
Yvette Gentry, a former chief of community building in the city government and police officer for more than 20 years is assuming the post. She’ll be the third person to hold the role since Taylor’s death, following the retirement of her predecessor, Robert Schroeder. In what the Louisville Courier-Journal reports was an emotional speech, Gentry reached out to the city’s West End residents, who have been protesting for more than 100 days since Taylor was gunned down in her home on March 13.
“I’m not here just to help you unboard your beautiful buildings downtown,” she said. “I’m here to work with you to unboard the community that I served with all my heart in west Louisville, that was boarded for 20 or 30 years.”
She said the past four months have been tough on police officers trying to hold the line, as well as on protesters, adding that it’s tough “seeing things just feel so hopeless.”
“I will just say: That is just a glimpse of how a lot of people have been feeling for a long time, and we can’t go back,” Gentry said. “I think our city is at a point of reckoning that only truth can bring us out of.”
Gentry will be the first Black woman to serve as the department’s head, even on a temporary basis. She’ll hold the role for no more than six months, and has yet to apply for the job permanently. As she told WDRB,
“I am excited about the police chief search that is going on. I want them to find a permanent chief, but I think there is a different person that can stand in that gap that knows from experience a lot of things that can help us maybe accelerate moving forward in a more equitable manner, so I felt like it should be me to stand in the gap and do this.”
Schroeder held the position for only three months. He followed Steve Conrad, who was fired after officials learned that two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man at a protest over George Floyd’s death had not turned on their body cameras.