Louisville city leaders praised Erika Shields, the former Atlanta police chief who has been hired to oversee their struggling department after Breonna Taylor’s death, but critics questioned if she was the right choice after a rocky departure from her previous job, the Associated Press reports. Shields was introduced after winning plaudits from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and a search panel that unanimously selected her. The panel included two Black city council members instrumental in police reforms since Taylor was fatally shot by officers in March. One panelist, city council member Jessica Green, urged the city to give Shields “an opportunity to earn your trust.” Ricky Jones, chair of the Pan-African studies department at the University of Louisville asked, “Why would you make a hire in which you have to beg people to give her a chance?” Jones, an Atlanta native, called the decision “a really odd hire.” He added, “I’m not saying there was any ideal candidate. I’m saying this candidate, because of her track record, was not ideal.”
Shields stepped down as Atlanta chief in June after the death of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man who was shot in the back by police in a restaurant parking lot after he fell asleep at the wheel in a drive-thru lane. “There’s so much riding on this hire. I just wish we were going a different route,” said Sadiqa Reynolds of Louisville’s Urban League, who has joined protesters after Taylor’s killing. “I wish we didn’t have to have someone that Atlanta didn’t want.” She hopes Shields moves away from the military-style response police often used on protesters. The search committee ended up with 28 candidates, including 11 current or former police chiefs. About half were Black. Shields, who is white, will be the fourth person to lead the force since Taylor’s death.