LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police Department leaders believe the creation of a full-time SWAT team was a worth-while effort.

Lt. Brent Routzahn with LMPD SWAT said since the full-time unit was created in November 2016, the officers have been busier than ever.

“It’s been a combination of basically us being more available and just there are more things happening,” Routzahn said.

From November 2016 through May 9, 2017, the full-time team has served 119 high-risk warrants. In that same time frame from 2015-16, the part-time team served 56.

Routzahn said a full-time team of about 20 officers allows them to be more effective and efficient with their manpower and resources. Before, if the SWAT team needed to do a time-consuming warrant roundup or perform details, the part-time officers would have to be pulled from other divisions. Routzahn believes allowing SWAT officers to focus on their jobs makes it safer for all other LMPD officers.

“So we’re a support unit,” Routzahn said. “We’re supporting divisions like Ninth Mobile and Narcotics. And those two units have stepped up greatly. And in conjunction with their efforts, we’ve been successful, in my opinion.”

Routzahn said as a part-time unit before, it was difficult to prepare for warrants. Now, officers can have the preliminary work done so they are ready to go when the division gives the green light. Routzahn said that alone can save several critical hours.

“It gets us back out in the street and gets that investigative unit back out on the next case quicker,” Routzahn said. “So it just saves a lot of time, and it makes us more readily available for other things.”

When the SWAT officers are not serving warrants or training, they are patrolling Louisville’s hotspots in the First, Second, and Fourth Divisions. Routzahn said they will sometimes patrol for 20 to 30 hours each week.

“Our main goal when we’re out there patrolling is to negate, mitigate, deter, prevent violence,” Routzahn said. “Or to intervene and stop violence.”

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad explained to the Public Safety Committee on Monday that, at first, the SWAT officers were focused on patrolling Park Hill and Victory Park. He said over the last six weeks, they also spent time in Russell, “which is a neighborhood that seems right now to be having the most shootings and violent crime.”

At that hearing, Councilman David James also asked Conrad if the team had been successful in reducing overtime, since that was “part of the reasoning” for creating a full-time team. Conrad answered that overtime is still being used, but it has not increased.

Conrad said that a part-time team still exists to help fill in when full-time officers are off. And he said the full-time team is serving more warrants and performing more details, which sometimes requires them to come in early or stay late. And that results in overtime pay.

So far, Routzahn believes the first six months have been a success for the full-time SWAT team.

“We’re there to save as many people as we can and to make it safe for everybody,” Routzahn said. 

Call outs:

Total in 2013: 12

Total in 2014: 13

Total in 2015: 11

Total in 2016: 17

Jan-May 2017: 16

High risk warrants:

Total in 2013: 98

Total in 2014: 64

Total in 2015: 139

Total in 2016: 172

Jan-May 2017: 66


Total in 2013: 18

Total in 2014: 57

Total in 2015: 50

Total in 2016: 70

Jan-May 2017: 30

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