Community meets in prayer day after standoff between LMPD chief - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Community meets in prayer day after standoff between LMPD chief and Metro Council members

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The fallout continued Friday -- one day after Louisville's police chief removed his top officers and half of Louisville Metro Council called for his dismissal.

The turmoil follows a record number of murders last year, and an ongoing child sex abuse scandal involving Louisville Metro Police.

Now, the community at the center of it all is speaking out.  

From the corner of S. 18th Street and W. Broadway, a worn community cried out in prayer. Sherla Fay Martin is one of those seeking God for help.

"Father God, we stand on your land right now, crying out for mercy," she prayed. "We're tired of identifying our children under a sheet," she added.

Beneath the prayers, distrust is brewing -- distrust and disillusionment. 

"The chief should go because of them molested kids," said Clarence Yancey, another resident. "And it's been hid. That should of came out a long time ago when it first happened."

The event at the site of the planned Passport Health Center was hosted by several local ministers including Rev. Charles Elliott's Jesus and Job group and the Brothers Helping Brothers organization. The west Louisville leaders announced a partnership with Passport where members of their respective groups will clean the site and prepare for construction. 

Muhammad said, "We believe there is a direct correlation between crime and unemployment." 

Neighbors also spoke out on both sides of the shakeup in LMPD's higher ranks. 

"If you are not doing what you are supposed to do -- or what you can do -- you have to be moved," Martin said.

On Friday, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad swore in Lieutenants Joshua Judah, Kimberly Burbrink and Jamey Schwab as Majors.

"Who I select to be on my staff is my decision," Chief Conrad said in a news conference on Thursday. "Whether or not they stay on the staff is my decision."

The chief basically wiped out the old regime, moving some majors to new positions, leaving others the option to retire or be demoted. 

The chief is now involved in a standoff with Louisville Metro Council. On Thursday afternoon, half of the membership called on Conrad to quit.

"We are tired of the body counts and the coverups," said Councilman David James.  

"I'm not going anywhere," Conrad said. "I'm not stepping down. I work for Mayor Fischer."

Much of the pushback centers on LMPD 2nd division Major Jimmy Harper, who represents the community where those prayers could be heard. He's out as major, but there is no word yet if he'll retire or take a demotion.

Harper is well-liked.

"He seemed to have an open door policy," said Minister Gerald Muhammad.

But Louisville is tracking toward another year of record murders and much of the violence is happening in the West Louisville neighborhoods Harper serves. Some feel Conrad is finding scapegoats. 

"He's trying to save his job," Yancey said. "I'm just trying to put it straight."

Others say the chief is looking for solutions. 

"Because there's too much going on, so we need some people to take on the responsibility to get the job done," Martin said.

No matter how we got here the prayer on this day begs for that change to work. 

We learned today that Major Curtis Flaherty is taking the retirement option. Flaherty is named in the Explorer lawsuit where LMPD is accused of covering up a teenage boy who says he was raped by officers running the program.

Flaherty says he's retiring due to concerns about changes in the state pension system. 

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