LMPD chief defends changes to department, says he asked mayor fo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD chief defends changes to department, says he asked mayor for more officers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – During a contentious meeting of a Louisville Metro Council committee Monday, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was grilled with questions about the city’s crime rate.

During the two-hour long special called meeting of the Public Safety Committee, both Democrat and Republican members of Metro Council expressed doubt about whether recent organizational changes to the police department had a positive effect on crime.

“With the exception of homicides, I'm confident to say it’s absolutely working,” Conrad said.

Those changes came in September and added more narcotics officers, a SWAT team and a Community Services division. He also ditched FLEX units, which were made up of detectives who focused on drugs and violent crime in specific neighborhoods.

"I believe this reorganization will allow us to more efficiently and effectively address the problems in our community," Conrad said.

So far, 2017 has proved to be an even more deadly year for crime in Louisville than 2016. LMPD is investigating 45 homicides this year, while at the same point last year, it was investigating 37.

“It’s frustrating to me that we've not been able to address it, and we're going to continue working in that area,” Conrad said.

After weeks of refusing to answer how many additional officers Conrad asked for from Mayor Greg Fischer in the upcoming fiscal year, Conrad finally answered.

He said he requested an additional 50 officers above attrition levels, but Fischer's proposal calls for 16.

Conrad called it “a wish list.”

In an email to WDRB News, Fischer’s spokesperson Chris Poynter said the following:

 “Putting together the city budget is a balancing act -- with many needs from public safety to affordable housing to economic development. The Mayor dedicated 80 percent of all new revenue projected for the next fiscal year to public safety, with the vast majority ($17 million) of it to LMPD to hire more officers and civilians. No city department director ever gets everything they ask for.”

“That tells me we need to work on that to get more officers for the Chief and confirmed my thought that he did ask for more than he received,” said Councilman David James, who the chair of the Public Safety Committee and a former police officer.

One other major point of contention during the meeting was the type of statistics that Conrad was using to justify his point that crime, aside from homicides, is down.

“My residents don't feel it, don't see it, and they feel it's getting worse,” said Councilwoman (D) Cheri Bryant Hamilton, whose district covers part of Louisville’s west end.

Councilman Brent Ackerson, a Democrat, cited what Conrad called “preliminary data,” saying it was not indicative of what crimes were actually occurring. Instead, Conrad used uniform crime statistics that are reported to the FBI.

“Based on the uniform crime reports, which is the way that every department uses to report to the FBI, we have seen a decrease in crime in our community,” Conrad said.

 Another point of debate between Ackerson and Conrad was about weighing non-violent crime with violent crime and who is responsible for preventing it.

“We're talking about controlling the numbers so we don't see spikes and increases, and one of the things I thought I just heard you say was that if we’re addressing the violent crime, the murders and the homicides, part of that give and take is that we’re going to have more break-ins and things,” Ackerson told Conrad. “Because it sounds like we’re shifting more resources to deal with those things, and I think I just heard you say that. Tell me if I 'm wrong.”

“You’re wrong,” Conrad responded. “What I said, specifically, was if we’re having challenges handling homicides, it’s unrealistic to expect us to be able to handle thefts. Thefts require people watching out for their own property.”

Budget hearings for Metro Council begin this week. 

Related Stories:

LMPD chief questioned by Metro Council members about city's rising homicide rate

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad expresses frustration over rising violence in front of Metro Council

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