FOP: "No evidence" of hiding crime reports at Waterfront Park - WDRB 41 Louisville News

FOP: Waterfront crime reports not hidden; force needs more officers

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FOP President Dave Mutchler appears before a public safety committee and denies any cover-up of crimes at Waterfront Park. FOP President Dave Mutchler appears before a public safety committee and denies any cover-up of crimes at Waterfront Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There is "no evidence" that police leaders ordered officers to underreport incidents of crime at Waterfront Park or anywhere else, the head of the River City Fraternal Order of Police told Metro Council members.

Those rumors have swirled since an outburst of mob violence started at the park March 22, FOP President Dave Mutchler said during a Wednesday meeting of the council's public safety committee.

Mutchler and Police Chief Steve Conrad appeared before the committee as part of an update on the mob attacks, which have led to an increased police presence in Waterfront Park, beefed-up security for the weekend Thunder Over Louisville and the addition of security cameras in the park.

"We have two officers assigned on a 24/7 basis to Waterfront Park and additional officers brought in during peak use hours," said Chief Conrad.

Mutchler questioned the validity of crime statistics in general and said it's difficult to quantify actual crime, compared with reported incidents.

And he repeatedly stressed staffing shortages in the department, saying police are more than 100 officers short of the authorized levels needed.

"Do we need more police officers? Well, we don't even have the police officers that we should have that we are authorized to have. I think that's a good start," he said.

Mutchler says they currently have nearly 1,170 sworn officers. But he says 1,280 are needed on the streets.

"It all boils down to the budget basically and finding a way to keep the budget at a level where we can hire officers as we need them, maintain our authorized strength," Mutchler said.

Mutchler also said incidents of youth mob violence aren't new – they've just received more extensive media coverage in the wake of the Waterfront Park attacks – and have been occurring for years.

Both he and Chief Conrad agree that public safety, and getting the community involved, needs to be a priority if things are going to change.

"Those are the kinds of things that may not pay dividends in the short term, but I think that's really long term where we need to be going as a community," says Chief Conrad.

"It may behoove us or the city to see what we can do in Frankfort about beefing up some of these laws pertaining to juveniles," says Dave Mutchler.

Conrad said 26 cameras have been installed at the park and are still being tested, although they are expected to be fully operational by Saturday's Thunder event downtown.

Corrections workers will monitor the cameras initially, but Conrad said he hopes that police employees will ultimately be able to watch them as part of round-the-clock surveillance.

Unlike a previous proposal, the cameras will simulcast activity in the park.

"So the idea would be to create a 24/7 watch center which would give us the ability to watch that information," says Chief Conrad.

Conrad said officers continue to monitor social media to observe threats, and he said nothing approaching the March 22 violence has been seen downtown in recent weeks.

Council President Jim King said the council would do whatever necessary to fund public safety. He described Waterfront Park downtown as the city's "living room."


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