LMPD Chief Steve Conrad expected to face heat at Metro Council m - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad expected to face heat at Metro Council meeting Monday

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Police Chief Steve Conrad is expected to address a Metro Council committee on Monday amid a rising homicide rate and changes in the department.

During a special called meeting of the Louisville Metro Council Public safety Committee, Conrad is expected to defend to major changes he made to the police department in September 2016.

Facing a spike in homicides, Conrad announced the changes that included more narcotics officers and a Community Services division. It also including the disbanding of each division’s FLEX units. Those units are made up of detectives who focus on drugs and violent crime in specific neighborhoods. 

“15 members of the Council signed a letter saying that we were critical of removing those FLEX teams,” said Metro Councilman David James. “We're approaching our first summer, which is normally our most violent time, without our division commanders having FLEX teams.”

James, a democrat, heavily criticized the decision to disband those units when it was first announced. The police force FOP also objected to the change.

“Part of the reason Chief Conrad told us last year it would be successful is if homicides were down,” James said.

The number of homicides in 2017 is outpacing the amount during the same period of 2016, which had the city’s most on record.

“I think there's a growing concern about the accountability of the police department in the form of Chief Conrad,” James said.

In April, during budget meetings, Conrad refused to answer a question from republican Councilwoman Angela Leet about how much more money he would be requesting in next year’s budget. Conrad said he would leave it up to the Mayor, who was scheduled to present his budget a few days later.

Following that meeting, Leet said the Mayor should ask for Conrad’s resignation.

“We look to him as the public safety expert to tell us what he needs and if 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.

Right now, Conrad reports directly to the Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen and James says it’s possible a reorganization of who the police chief reports to could also be in order.

“We don't have a public safety director and chief Conrad reports directly to someone doesn't have a law enforcement background,” James said. “So maybe that's something we need to look at.”

The Public Safety Committee meets Monday at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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