LMPD overtime and staffing under fire in budget hearing
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- LMPD plans to hire more officers, but some city leaders are concerned it will not be enough to replace the large number who have left the police force.
Mayor Greg Fischer's proposed budget includes funding for 145 new officers to replace the 125 officers LMPD Chief Steve Conrad expects to lose. The funding is part of a more than $179 million proposed LMPD budget, which also includes $3.5 million to purchase 90 new police vehicles.
Metro Council members questioned Conrad on Wednesday about the number of officers leaving the department and the struggle to replace the number of people lost. Conrad said LMPD will have three recruit classes next year to train the new officers.
Metro Councilwoman Marilyn Parker asked if a hostile work environment is to blame for some of the turnover. Conrad disputesd claims about low morale in the department and said people are leaving because of retirement benefit fears.
"As people left, as we were doing exit interviews, these weren't people leaving mad,” Conrad said. “These were people worrying that there would be changes to the pension that would be enacted with an emergency clause and that they wouldn't have the opportunity to fully take advantage of the benefits that they had worked so hard to gain."
Conrad is pledging to have officers focus on crime hot spots and to fight drug tracking in the community.
LMPD's overtime budget was also under fire at the hearing. Conrad said through May 19, the department has used 28,000 hours of overtime on violent crime prevention up from 25,000 hours. The cost of that overtime was about $1.2 million.
Metro Council members questioned Conrad on how the money was used and whether it is helping make the community safer. He said the overtime is contributing to a significant decrease in crime.
As of the end of April, the department had an overtime shortfall of more than $811,000 not including Thunder Over Louisville or the Kentucky Derby. Conrad said they are trying to get money back that would cover some overtime costs.
"We're working to try and make sure that as we do special events and opportunities where we can is to get reimbursed for the amount of money that we're spending," he said.
LMPD's proposed budget still has to be voted on by Metro Council.
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