Despite concerns from police union, LMPD chief says it's his call to reorganize department

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As LMPD Chief Steve Conrad met with neighbors at a peace walk in the California neighborhood Tuesday night, some of the rank and file met with their union.  

And they are not happy about Conrad's planned changes to the department.

Chief Conrad says he'll move the department to a full-time SWAT team, expand it's narcotics unit and add a new division to build trust between officers and the community, just as the peace walks are meant to do. 

But it all comes at a cost of dismantling the LMPD flex units. That's more than 50 detectives and sergeants assigned to each division who focus on drugs and violent crime in specific neighborhoods.

Late Monday night, the department's police union sent a statement saying officers are "surprised, concerned and upset" about the changes:

“Lodge 614 was not notified in advance or asked for member input regarding the recent reorganization at the LMPD. I was notified via a phone call the day before the announcement was made.  We believe that our department needs a full time SWAT component and can definitely benefit from an enhanced narcotics division.  However, we believe that dismantling the flex platoons in each of the eight patrol divisions should NOT be considered and will take an important option away from division commanders to combat crime and narcotics trafficking in their respective divisions.  These Flex platoons are currently staffed with 50+ detectives and sergeants who work very hard to address the thousands of drug complaints and quality of life issues submitted by citizens each year. My members are very surprised, concerned and upset with this decision.  I have reached out to officers, detectives, commanding officers, the chairperson of the Metro Council Public Safety Committee and other Council members and have yet to find anyone who was consulted about the decision to dismantle these units or the effect it will have on my members or the citizens of Metro Louisville.” 

Chief Conrad told WDRB on Tuesday that he didn't ask for input, because ultimately, he's in charge of making these kinds of tough calls. 

"This is a decision I have made. I will be held responsible for it, I'll be accountable for it, and I believe I'm trying to do what's in the best interest of this community and best interest for all of our officers," Chief Conrad said. 

"And I realize that change is tough. Some people are going to be working in some different places, but we'll be a better and stronger department and hopefully a safer community."

FOP members met behind closed doors Tuesday night for the first time since the changes were announced. 

Our cameras were not allowed inside that meeting. 

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