City to hire expert to determine appropriate size of police force
City hopes to have results of independent study by September.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In the next few months, the city will hire an expert to determine the appropriate size of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
Council President Jim King and police officials both confirmed Monday that the police will issue a formal Request for Proposals by June for a consultant to assess what’s known as the department's "authorized strength."
Dwight Mitchell, a spokesperson for police, said Police Chief Steve Conrad hopes to have the results known by September.
King, among others, has been pushing for an independent analysis on police staffing in the wake of last month's youth mob attacks, which involved as many as 200 people, according to police estimates.
After hearings on public safety following the attackers, King said council members "came away with the feeling that we did not have a data set that backed up numbers we were using as authorized strength" and council wanted to have an "authoritative source" for making that determination.
“...It’s difficult to build a budget unless you know the need,” King said in an interview Monday. “This will give us a long term approach to address public safety.”
King mentioned that Mayor Greg Fischer and Conrad have taken action to shore up any police manpower issues over the next few months with overtime staffing.
On April 10, Dave Mutchler, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, told council members that he couldn't remember a time in which the police department operated at its authorized strength – 1,281 officers.
"We don't even have the police officers that we should have, that we're authorized," Mutchler said. "I think that's a good start."
Mutchler acknowledged that he wasn't sure how the total staffing number is computed – a point King echoed then and on Monday.
“My understanding is we just don’t know,” King said.
Mutchler and Conrad have provided sometimes differing numbers in response to committee members' questions.
Conrad has said there are 1,211 officers on the Louisville Metro Police Department payroll. Based on current vacancies and historic trends in attrition and retirement, he expects 1,229 officers by June 30.
Mutchler, however, has stressed another figure – that there are 1,169 "sworn, solo police officers" who are not in training or in a probationary period. That amounts to 112 below the level authorized, he said.
"If we want to maintain our authorized strength, what has to be done is: You have to have 1,280 officers on the street and 70 more in the academy ready for the attrition for those folks that are going to leave," he said earlier this month.
What makes that difficult, he said, are actions like canceling a recruiting class last year amid budget concerns.
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