Louisville Metro Council member calls for LMPD Police Chief's resignation
Louisville Metro Council member has called for police chief Steve Conrad’s resignation.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –A Louisville Metro Council member is calling for Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad’s resignation.
“Unfortunately today, the murders continue, the shootings continue, and the lack of leadership from the chief continues,” Republican Angela Leet said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
During a meeting of the Louisville Metro Council Public Safety committee on Wednesday, Leet questioned Conrad on manpower and whether the city had enough officers.
“How many new officers have you recommended he (Mayor Fischer) include in his new budget?” Leet asked.
"You will hear from the Mayor on the 28th. I have made those recommendations to the Mayor and we'll have an opportunity to describe during the budget hearing what I've asked for," Conrad responded.
"So you can't tell me now?" Leet asked.
"Yes ma'am that's what I'm saying," Conrad said.
Leet called Conrad's comments a "tipping point."
"I realized through his responses that he felt more beholden to the Mayor and answering to the Mayor than answering to the community," Leet said in an interview with WDRB prior to Thursday's budget committee meeting.
Councilman David James says he isn't ready to ask for the Chief's resignation, but as chairman of the Public Safety Committee, he has heard complaints about the chief from fellow council members.
James says Metro Council was asked to give Chief Conrad six months for his reorganization plan within the police department to take place. That six months will be up in May -- at which time the chief will be asked to give an update.
"He [Chief Conrad] said at that time the measure of success would be if homicides were up or if homicides were down," James said.
So far in 2017 there have been more homicides than there were in 2016 at the same time.
In December, the Louisville Fraternal Order of Police overwhelmingly issued a no-confidence vote in Conrad.
"The union has a right to voice their opinion, but any leader will tell you that leadership is about doing the right thing at the right time, rather than the popular thing," Chief Conrad said following that vote.
This call for a change in leadership comes amid allegations of a cover-up by leadership in the Louisville Metro Police Department involving sex abuse of juveniles in LMPD’s Explorer Program.
"Last year, allegations against officers working in the Explorer program surfaced, and it wasn’t until this year that any administrative actions were taken," Leet said in the statement.
When asked specifically if the LMPD Explorer Program scandal played a part in her decision, Leet said, "It is certainly an element."
Chief Conrad closed an internal investigation into Officer Kenneth Betts and accusations of misconduct involving Betts and an Explorer “by exception” when Betts resigned, saying “no further action need be taken.”
Betts is facing two counts of sodomy involving two different alleged victims. Former Officer Brandon Wood was also indicted on seven counts of sexual abuse with one alleged victim, a juvenile, stemming from incidents in 2011 and 2012.
Metro Councilman David James, a Democrat, has criticized Conrad in the past, specifically for a reorganization of the department in 2016. The shuffle was aimed at decreasing the spiking homicide rate in the city.
"As public safety chair, I plan to call on Chief Conrad to appear at a special public safety meeting to articulate if his reorganization has been successful or not. When asked at the time, Chief Conrad advised the way to determine success or not would be if our homicides decreased from last year," James said in a message to WDRB. "If we see that hasn’t taken place, it’s probably time for the Council to consider as a body if we have confidence in Chief Conrad leading LMPD."
In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said: "We are always open to constructive suggestions, but laying all crime and societal problems at the feet of one man is an unrealistic and simple solution to a complex problem. It's also an insult to the hard working men and women of LMPD that the Chief leads."
"We look to him as the public safety expert to tell us what he needs and if he can't give us a direct answer because he has to go through the Mayor, that is a significant problem and we should all be alarmed," Leet said.
A spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department said in an email that "no statement will be issued by LMPD. Please refer to Mayor Fischer's statement for comment."
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