LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Leaders with the Louisville Metro Police Department say the strategy of focusing more overtime in "hotspot" neighborhoods is working to reduce violent crime.
In December 2016, the department was allotted $1.2 million of the city budget surplus to dedicate to overtime pay for officers patrolling seven high-crime areas. LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said officers would focus on the Park Hill, Smoketown, Shelby Park, California, Russell and Shawnee neighborhoods, and the Beecher Terrace public housing complex.
Colonel Michael Sullivan, LMPD’s deputy chief of police, said the extra time in these neighborhoods is already making a difference. Since December, Sullivan said officers have made more arrests and citations. And he believes they’re preventing more serious crimes.
“We’ve seized over 85 weapons since starting this initiative,” Sullivan said. “That’s 85 guns that were being possessed illegally. And we don’t know how many of those situations we actually stopped another shooting or another homicide.”
That extra overtime funding was meant to last from January to June 2017. An email obtained by WDRB News shows LMPD has already used over half the funds. Sullivan said the department cannot comment on specifics but added leaders have plans to make sure there is enough to fund overtime through the rest of the fiscal year.
“We have a plan and a strategy to be able to use that as we see fit,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, we’re not going to tell the bad guys when and where we’re going to use our overtime.”
Chief Conrad is expected to address the overtime budget with the public safety committee of Metro Council next week.
“If we see spikes, we’ll make adjustments," Sullivan said. "We make adjustments all the time. We let data drive the decisions that we make in deployment of personnel.”
Sullivan said the extra overtime does wear on the officers. That’s why, he said, the department is looking forward to the extra officers that will be hired to help. Another portion to the budget surplus will go to hiring an additional 28 officers.
Many who live and work in some of the "hotspot" neighborhoods are torn on whether more officers and more overtime will help solve the violence problem.
Calvin Wooten runs the Love Transformation Project, which provides services to homeless and poor families in Louisville.
“A lot of the community is saying, yes, we need it," he said about the extra patrols. "...because of the safety factor that’s involved with that.”
But Wooten also believes more officers cannot solve the deep-rooted issues of poverty.
"I don't think that there's enough police officers or buildings to lock people up to fix this problem,” he said.
Wooten hopes that more officers can partner with some of the non-profits serving the needs of the same neighborhoods.
"When you roll through Shelby Park, and you meet a kid who is 12-years-old, and he's already selling drugs and packing a gun, there's something wrong there,” Wooten said. “When you roll through there and they haven't eaten in two days, there's something wrong. And that type of poverty just promotes crime.
"If I was a 12-year-old kid, and I didn't have anything to eat, I'm going to steal something. And that's just the nature of it. And that is prevalent in our city. And until we can address that at that level, I don't care how many police officers you put out here, the problem is going to keep escalating."
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