More cuts of Metro Police specialized units possible

Ken Fleming (R-District 7)
Ken Fleming (R-District 7)
James Peden (R-District 23)
James Peden (R-District 23)

By Caton Bredar - bio  | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In the midst of the economic crisis and a budget shortfall, rumors are circulating of possible cuts to the Louisville Metro Police Department. We talked to Metro Council members to get some answers.

In the midst of a budget committee meeting, Councilman Ken Fleming (R-District 7) questioned city officials as to the possibility of cuts to the air, water and mounted police units.

"I've been bombarded with questions, on how this is going to affect the rank and file in the police department," Fleming said, referring to the recent $45 million settlement with Louisville's firefighters.

While Louisville officials claim the settlement will not be paid through any cuts to other departments, the councilman's concerns were not totally waylaid.

"There appears to be a strong push to get rid of certain assets or certain units - the helicopter, certain boats and maybe even the mounted police," said Fleming.

Fleming is not the only one asking questions. Several other council members, including James Peden (R-District 23), expressed concern about rumors he's been hearing.

"You hear enough rumors from enough people, there's probably a little basis in truth to all of them, and that is that the first of the year both the mounted police and the air patrol will both be mothballed, although I don't know how you mothball a horse," said Peden.

With the LMPD Air Unit headquartered in his district and a close association with the mounted unit, the issue is close to home for Peden. He claims that one in one of his neighborhoods, the mounted police rode to the rescue on a crime-ridden dead-end street.

"The mounted police came out for a few hours every other day for about two or three weeks and really, really solved some of my problems," Peden said.

Support for the air unit first came to light two years ago, when the city eliminated one of their two helicopters. There is wide-spread concern among council members now, that the last remaining chopper might also bite the dust.

"Public safety is one of our primary missions," said Fleming. "And we need to make sure we have the proper funds to go out there and protect the public.  So yeah, that will always be a concern of mine."

While neither the mayor's office nor the police department would comment on any possible cuts, Chief Robert White confirmed the possibility in a WAVE 3 during an interview back in April. Given the current economic circumstances, Peden says anything is possible.

"I suppose at this point, any specialized unit may be on the chopping block in one form or another," Peden said.

Peden hopes Metro Council members will be given a chance to look for alternatives before any final decision is made.

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