Brief: LMPD makes arrest on campus Friday, Feb 19 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The Louisville Metro Police Department made an arrest after an incident on Fourth Street between Brandeis Avenue and Cardinal Boulevard on February 19.

University of Louisville Police Department Chief Gary Lewis said ULPD was on the scene assisting LMPD with the situation.  “Today, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) contacted our agency and advised that they were in pursuit of a vehicle on Fourth Street and the suspect later stopped, then was barricaded inside the car just south of Cardinal Boulevard,” Lewis said. “ULPD responded to assist in setting up traffic control and a perimeter.”

Students received a RAVE alert at 11:54 A.M. informing students to avoid the area. A second RAVE alert was issued and 12:40  P.M. with an update that the issue had been resolved.

“After approx. 45 minutes, the suspect exited the vehicle without incident and LMPD took custody. The scene was cleared and a subsequent UofL Safety Update was sent to the campus community notifying students that they could return to this area on campus,” Lewis said.

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to the LMPD for information regarding this incident but has not received a reply at the time of publishing this article.

We will update this story with more information as we learn more.

Photo by Sean Willis

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U of L’s affiliated campus housing has seen higher crime rate in recent months Friday, Jan 29 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville Police Department has reported higher rates of crime over the past year than usual. These increases in crime seem to be especially affecting the campus-affiliated apartment buildings: The Province, The Retreat, The Nine and The Clubhouse.

“Efforts are underway to increase police officer presence with the primary goal of reducing potential crime,” ULPD Chief Gary Lewis said. “There have been a number of successful apprehensions of suspects following these incidents based upon the due diligence of marked patrol cruisers and plain clothes detectives.”

From Oct. 2020 to Dec. 2020 there were a total of 60 crimes reported at these four properties combined. The building with the most reported crimes was The Clubhouse with 20 reported incidents over the course of the four months. The Retreat had the least reported incidents, with seven crimes reported over the three months.

The three most common incidents reported were theft, criminal mischief and domestic violence. Theft accounts for 16 of these reports, not including two incidents of burglary, four of robbery and one motor vehicle theft. Criminal mischief accounts for ten incidents and domestic violence accounts for nine.

All four of the affiliated properties were contacted for comment, but The Retreat, The Clubhouse and The Nine have not reached out as of the publishing of this article.

“We do not have any information other than what has been provided by the police,” Heather Hadden, general manager of The Province said.

The most recent incident at these properties was a robbery that occurred in the parking lot of The Province on Jan. 19. No Rave alert was sent out at the time but students received an email later that day informing them that a non-affiliates phone was stolen and she was assaulted with pepper spray before she was able to drive away and flag down a ULPD officer.

Lewis says he is not sure what the increase in crime can be attributed to, but he also says he is interested in evaluating the crime data from 2020 in order to find out and decide how to best address the problem.

In the meantime, Lewis had advice for students trying to stay safe on campus.

“We continue to remind students, faculty and staff not to engage in dialogue or conversation with unknown parties, especially during late-night hours, while also keeping all windows and doors locked,” Lewis said.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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Student robbed at gunpoint outside of Community Park Tuesday, Oct 6 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A student was robbed at gunpoint late last night outside of Community Park after an officer spotted the incident during a routine patrol.

University of Louisville students received a RAVE alert a little after 11 p.m. on Oct. 5 in response to the robbery.

The officer noticed a subject walking on the street who then ducked behind a parked vehicle on 4th street in front of the residence hall. The officer proceeded to investigate, where they saw the subject leaning over what appeared to be a person on the ground.

“Officers immediately responded, making contact with the victim on the ground and learned that they had just been held at gunpoint and [had] their cellphone stolen,” Lewis said.

Officers attempted to apprehend the subject, but failed. However, they were able to recover the stolen cellphone in their search. There were no reported injuries to the victim.

The identity of the suspect remains unknown and an arrest has yet to be made, but the RAVE alert described the individual as “a black male of unknown age, braids, 5’10” 180 lbs, wearing a white jogging suit.” ULPD’s Detective Unit is conducting a follow-up investigation.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Man convicted of multiple crimes committed on campus last winter Tuesday, Sep 22 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

Jefferson County resident Alfred Toe Kesseh, 23, has been convicted of burglary, robbery and rape by a grand jury after committing several crimes during the winter of 2019 at multiple University of Louisville student housing locations. He will serve 27 years in prison.

ULPD said Kesseh was arrested in January 2019 after stealing items from five students, holding three individuals at gunpoint, and raping a woman. The crimes took place at the Cardinal Towne and the University Pointe apartments.

According to the Courier Journal, “Kesseh was convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree robbery, multiple counts of second-degree burglary, [and] theft by unlawful taking and fraudulent use of a credit card.” Kesseh’s sentencing is set for November 4.

In response to Kesseh’s crimes last year, U of L sent out two RAVE alerts within the first week of the Spring 2019 semester. ULPD also responded by expanding patrols and reiterating to students safe practices for traveling on campus, including utilizing the campus escort service and staying alert at all times.

Photo Courtesy of Metro Corrections 

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U of L apologizes for vague RAVE alert Friday, Sep 11 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

A vague RAVE alert sent campus-wide at 2:19 a.m. Sept. 10 potentially endangered students and resulted in an almost immediate apology.

The alert said: “A black male wearing a red hoodie ran from Clark County Indiana Police and is possibly on campus. If you see someone matching this description- call ULPD or LMPD.”

Faculty and students said the vague description was potentially dangerous to black students on campus.

Three U of L officials released statements the morning after the alert went out to apologize for the incident.

“This morning a RAVE Alert went out asking our campus to be on the lookout for a Black male in a red hoodie, ” President Neeli Bendapudi said in her statement. “That is not an anti-racist statement. While the description may have been true, it is too vague to be of any help and it perpetuates negative stereotypes (especially on a campus whose colors are red and black and whose student population is proudly more than 12% Black) that make some members of our campus community targets. There is no excuse for that.”

Bendapudi apologized to those who were negatively affected by the alert and promise that the university would do better in the future.

ULPD Chief Gary Lewis took responsibility for the mistake and said the alert was unapproved and did not fit the criteria for a RAVE alert.

“The lack of oversight in approval of the message, the tone and the ambiguous wording all potentially contributed to making some individuals on our campus that already suffer from the trauma of racial stereotyping less safe and not more,” Lewis said. “Further, our policy is to use RAVE Alerts for law enforcement updates only when there is either 1) a serious crime, or 2) an immediate threat to our campus. This situation did not meet either criteria.”

Dr. Kaila Story, a professor of Women and Gender Studies and Pan African Studies at U of L, posted her frustration to Facebook.

“These vague RAVE alerts have always put marginalized groups on our campus at risk. BIPOC faculty, students and staff on our campus already have to navigate racialized and gendered microaggressions in almost every space on our yard, and when alerts like these come through our phones and emails they inevitably invite more scrutiny and harm to these already vulnerable groups,” Story said.

“It wasn’t just Black male bodies that were put at risk, it was also Black bodies that registered to onlookers as masculine, non-binary and/or masculine as well,” Story said. “So many folks were put at risk.”

One student who was hurt and disappointed when he saw the RAVE alert was Torien Miles, a senior at U of L. “I’m in the marching band and we had just had a performance the day before and I was on campus, as a black male wearing red. I wear red all the time,” Miles said.

“So I fit the description just a couple hours before that RAVE alert went out. And if had gone out, instead of 2 a.m. at 8 p.m. or something I would have been on campus fitting that description.”

Miles believes that if the university is going to stay true to their anti-racist ideas, there needs to be actions taken, and not just apologies after the fact. “That email is a good step in the right direction but it takes a lot more visible action and a lot more workable action to make these things right,” he said.

Faye Jones, senior associate vice president for diversity and equity said, “As the mother of children that fit the description of the RAVE Alert that went out this morning, I am sitting with the enormous weight and frustration of yet another example of how our systems can fail our young Black and Brown students, faculty and staff. The system unquestionably failed this morning.”

Jones said she would be working with her colleagues and university stakeholders to prevent this issue from happening again. She also apologized and offered support to anyone who was hurt by the mistake.

Story agrees that this mistake goes against the anti-racist goals the university has.

“If U of L truly aims to be seen and regarded as a premier anti-racist institution these types of incidents cannot continue to happen. Their needs to be structural changes behind those aims. I also think that financial allocations need to be adjusted within the University to prioritize departments, programs, and initiatives that have always been invested in teaching anti-racist praxis,” she said.

The Student Government Association ‘Top Four’ also believes the university needs to be held accountable for this incident. In a statement posted on social media they said,  “The Student Government Association shares your frustrations regarding this RAVE alert incident as well as the repeated alerts that went out a couple weeks ago regarding protests in the area. Campus safety includes all of us, and we cannot achieve that when we put our Black students at risk.”

“Please know that SGA has been working with ULPD and university administration on this issue. We are committed to holding university leadership accountable to this repeated issue.”

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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University leaders hold virtual forum with community Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi held a virtual forum with U of L Police Department Chief Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards on June 9 to answer community questions on the relationship between ULPD and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Lewis began by explaining the current relationship ULPD has with LMPD and how it goes back to the 1970s.

“Following the Kent State incident, many universities felt it important to create and develop their own police force,” Lewis said. “Many may not know, but this organization started with a Louisville Metro retiree.”

Lewis said that when he arrived to U of L two years ago, ULPD had about 98% retired Louisville Metro police officers working for ULPD. “To date, we are at about 40%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that ULPD is a state accredited police department with less than 50 sworn officers, about 30 security officers and travel escorts.

Bendapudi also explained there is no formal partnership agreement between the two police departments that U of L can divest from.

Dawson-Edwards told students: “We hear you.”

“I realize that people think that training and education as just a reform thing, not a divest, but I want to argue it’s both,” Dawson-Edwards said. “We have to do training and education, and we need to do it better. We need to hold the police accountable, we need to hold ourselves accountable for that education and training.”

Like Bendapudi said in her response to BSU, Dawson-Edwards has committed to doing equity audits for all criminal justice academic programs, including the police executive leadership development certificate.

“I want to make sure that we are infusing equity, inclusion, diversity, social justice, all types of things in our curriculum,” she said. “It is not enough for us to just teach people how to be police and not teach people what they should expect from the community in this society that we’re living in.”

She anticipates the Southern Police Institute, a 60-year old officer training program located and taught at U of L, will do the same. This could include more activities, training and education about these particular issues with current police officers.

During the Q&A portion of the forum, Bendapudi was asked why U of L could not do what the University of Minnesota did in choosing to dissociate from their local police department.

“The reality is that we are an urban campus as you’ve heard,” Bendapudi said. “Our streets and roads, and Louisville’s, are intertwined. So we definitely need to work together–that’s the concurrent and overlapping jurisdictions you’ve heard about.”

Dawson-Edwards further explained that what is coming out of Minnesota is because people have been researching and doing the work to understand the problems for a long time.

“They are primed for it,” Dawson-Edwards said. “They have a 150 year history document on performance review for their police called ‘Enough is Enough.'”

“You can’t just take one city’s or one university’s blueprint and lay it on top of ours without making sure that our stuff matches theirs,” Dawson-Edwards said.

Bendapudi ended the forum by reiterating the actions U of L is taking, including now doing background checks for any officer who works at university events.

“As mother and leader of higher education, who has always cared for her students, I am telling you that we are going to work together on this,” Bendapudi said. “There is so much to learn.  I catch myself all the time when I forget all the privileges I have and you as young people, you’re educating us.”

She then committed to an anti-racist agenda moving forward. Bendapudi said there will be more forums in the future to continue discussion on broad, difficult topics.

“Let’s not forget this moment, this is not performative. This is not just until the news cycle changes. It’s important,” Bendapudi said. “I will do my best and I give you my word. My job is to do the very best I can for you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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President Bendapudi responds to U of L BSU’s letter Monday, Jun 8 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi responded to the Black Student Union’s demands that were released on May 31. In the letter addressed to BSU President Maliya Homer on June 3, Bendapudi addresses the student union’s demands, which included a severance between the U of L Police Department and Louisville Metro Police Department, and for U of L to rename its Overseers Honors House given the word “overseers” tie with slavery.

“I have pledged since I arrived at U of L to do my best always to celebrate diversity, foster equity, and strive for inclusion,” Bendapudi said in the letter. “I want to address each of these issues and explain how I intend to move forward.”

She explained that she spoke with Chief Diversity Officer Faye Jones, Chief of ULPD Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards for their perspectives on the issue of cutting ties with LMPD.

“Your request for us to immediately terminate our relationship with LMPD would not make our campus or its constituents safer, and it would be an insufficient answer to a very complex problem,” Bendapudi said.

Bendapudi said that its difficult to fully cut ties because of overlapping jurisdiction with U of L being in the middle of Louisville.

“We have an intricate relationship with LMPD that touches many parts of our campus and virtually all of our faculty, staff and students,” Bendapudi said. She said that U of L is home to the Southern Police Institute that provides training and courses taught by Criminal Justice faculty for officers.

“This is not to say there are not significant issues within the police force that must be addressed. This is true and they must, but our relationship with LMPD is necessary to the University for these reasons and more,” she said. “I believe the harder approach and the one we will commit to is evolving and molding our partnership with LMPD so it clearly reflects our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, our Cardinal Principle.”

The commitments U of L is taking include: ensuring ULPD is the lead law enforcement agency when dealing with a member of the campus community, performing an equity audit on all criminal justice academic programs, reducing the need for external law enforcement support at athletic events, providing de-escalation and cultural sensitivity training for officers working university events or hired by ULPD, and leveraging the SPI as a catalyst for change.

“To reiterate, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the work we will do,” Bendapudi said. “We are actively assessing our partnerships and working to ensure they reflect the values of our institution and support the success of our students, faculty and staff.”

With regards to the Honors house, Bendapudi said that if U of L is committed to being an equitable anti-racist environment, then the term “overseers” should not be used at U of L.

“I take responsibility for this issue not being addressed earlier,” she said. “This sign has likely caused incalculable and unnecessary pain to many of our students, faculty and staff over the years. I am sorry that it was not addressed sooner, but it is done now.”

The word has been removed from the sign as a temporary fix. A new sign will replace the current one sometime before the start of the fall semester. Bendapudi said she also has a team removing all digital references of the term from U of L owned websites.

Bendapudi also said in her response, that moving forward she will require leaders to include more student representation on all change initiatives.

“Whether it is on the criminal justice academic programs equity audits, the development of officer training programs, or other measures that arise from our ongoing conversations, I will require our leaders to include student representation, particularly the Black Student Union, to ensure the approaches we take are informed by the lived experience of our most fundamental constituency,” Bendapudi said.

BSU Vice President Ni’Kerrion McDonald said that he doesn’t believe these decisions are enough, however.

“Coming out of the meeting with Dr. Bendapudi, the board and I felt as if they had already made up their mind regarding the predetermined ‘list of solutions,'” McDonald said. “We are obviously not satisfied with the outcome of our demands not being met. While the university takes gradual, but persistent action, we will continue to implement our own call to action.”

Maliya Homer, the BSU’s President, released a statement on June 6 informing the community of the actions U of L has taken. Alongside announcing the creation of the Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship, Homer called on the Louisville community to direct calls to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office urging him to cut funding from LMPD’s budget of $189 million, as reported in fiscal year 2018-2019.

“We need the community to make it so that a partnership with LMPD is no longer a crucial piece,” Homer said. “The revolution will not stop because the university cannot immediately divest from LMPD,” Homer said. “At the end of the day, the university is a business. Businesses aren’t going to lead the revolution–young people are.”

McDonald said the BSU plans to hold the university accountable to its commitments. “Without follow-through and results, these incremental steps are just not enough,” he said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L’s Black Student Union addresses demands in letter to university officials Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

The University of Louisville’s Black Student Union released a statement on May 31 calling for U of L and the University of Louisville Police Department to discontinue its partnership with the Louisville Metro Police Department. This comes after days of protests in Louisville for the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“The relationship between ULPD and LMPD was described as ‘fruitful,’ and while that may be the case in regard to ‘safeguarding the assets of the university’–that is not the case when it comes to students, faculty and staff,” BSU President Maliya Homer said. “Nothing about being in closer proximity to state sanctioned violence makes us any safer.”

ULPD Police Chief Gary Lewis said the relationship between the two departments has gone back as far as the 1970s.

“As the years have gone by, the personnel strength of ULPD has grown which has enhanced the ability to handle all law enforcement related duties on our campuses,” Lewis said.

One of the resources Lewis said the partnership with  LMPD provides is the Real Time Crime Center, or RTCC. “Information gathered can be shared with law enforcement agencies across all of Jefferson County, to include ULPD,” Lewis said.

The student union is also calling for the university to rename the Overseer’s Honor’s House. Homer told the Cardinal she called for the renaming because the word “overseer” was once used as a term to refer to the middleman in plantation hierarchy.

U of L Director of Communications John Karman said the word is being removed from the building’s name.

“The University changed the name of its Board of Overseers last year to the President’s Council for the same reason,” Karman said. “Overseers is being removed from the Honors House name.”

“We’re demanding that the university respond with the same swiftness that they protected the ‘Free Speech Zone’ for people not affiliated with the university to taunt and harass students, staff and faculty for hours on end,” Homer said.

U of L has yet to respond to the BSU’s demands; however, Karman said the university and ULPD are aware of the BSU’s demands and are currently reviewing them.

“We will not settle for a flippant response filled with superfluous excuses and platitudes–we deserve so much more than that. Breonna deserves so much more than that,” Homer said.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L President Neeli Bendapudi: “Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.” Monday, Jun 1 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

President Neeli Bendapudi announced in an email on May 29 the actions the University of Louisville plans to take after the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.

“At the University of Louisville, Diversity and Inclusion is one of our core Cardinal Principles,” Bendapudi said.

“This university strives to be a home and safe haven for our students, faculty and staff of color just as we strive to do this for all of the many rich and diverse identities held throughout our campus community.”

Those actions include updating the Bias Incident Response Team, which is responsible for responding to incidents of racism, microaggressions and bias. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will also update their programming and will reach out to students who need support during this time or want to be educated on racial topics.

Another action the university will take is creating a new education program for faculty and staff that will cover diversity and inclusion. The educational series will be developed by the Department of Education Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development in the College of Education and Human Development, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Bendapudi also stated the University of Louisville Police Department is committed to keeping campus safe for all students and is involved in discussions surrounding race. “The Department continues to be actively involved in open forums discussing critical racial issues that impact our campus and local community,” Bendapudi said.

U of L has also created a resource page that can be found on the Diversity and Inclusion website. The website provides information on the history of racism and slavery for those interested in learning more about these issues.

Bendapudi concluded the email by acknowledging that these actions are not a solution by themselves but do point to progress the university is making.

“It will take all of us acting collectively with informed intention and empowering care to start to see the change we need, “Bendapudi said.

“I ask each of us to please take an intentional step today to be better and to do more. I need your help. Our Cardinal Family of color needs your help. Our society needs your help.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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ULPD introduces new motorcycle program to increase safety Sunday, Dec 1 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville students can expect to see two University of Louisville Police Department (ULPD) motorcycles around campus from now on. ULPD is testing out a new motorcycle program to enhance campus safety.

“The University of Louisville Police Department has a consistent and proactive goal of innovation and enhancing safety across campus,” said ULPD chief Gary Lewis. “The addition of the Motorcycle Unit will enhance our ability to perform our mission. Motorcycles are cost and energy efficient, display effective mobility techniques, strengthen and builds [sic] upon public and community relations while improving campus coverage response times.”

Harley Davidson is leasing the motorcycles to ULPD for this program. The program’s cost will be $30,000 over the next three years said Lewis. Lewis also said this will be $10,000 cheaper than buying a new Ford SUV police cruiser.

Due to their smaller nature, these motorcycles will be used to monitor high traffic areas. “By their nature, high traffic areas can make it difficult to position a patrol car. Motorcycles, however, can be more effective at these locations due to the ease with which they can be positioned,” said Lewis. “Motorcycles can also assimilate into traffic for enforcement purposes easier than conventional patrol vehicles.”

ULPD also plans on using the motorcycles to cut down response times and provide more surveillance on campus. “The police motorcycle’s surveillance of the area can be overt to maximize the visible deterrent impact or covert to maximize tactical objectives,” said Lewis.

Lewis hopes this operation can be used in conjunction with educational campaigns and public information around campus. “Some agencies have even used these types of events to roll out new shipments of police motorcycles,” said Lewis. “Agencies can advertise the purchase of the motorcycles and associate them with a specific problem, whether it is red light running, speeding, aggressive driving, or some other traffic problem in that agency’s jurisdiction.”

Three ULPD officers trained for this program: Sgt. Oscar Chavez, Don Gosney and Doug Howard. The program has been in effect as of Nov. 11.

Photo Courtesy of ULPD

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