By Craig Hoffman
(LOUISVILLE, May 21st, 2004, 7 p.m.) -- In an effort to curb crime, and put more officers on the streets, Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White is reshuffling the way officers patrol Louisville neighborhoods. Boundaries in the old city-county departments will change this fall. WAVE 3's Craig Hoffman reports.
Chief White says the action will give officers flexibility to move in and out of neighborhoods more easily. He is also hiring more civilians to take over paperwork responsibilities currently performed by uniformed officers. That will put more officers on patrol to help fight crime.
Chief White says "This was done, based on where crime is, addressing the needs of the entire community. Obviously, some people will be very happy with it, and we will have our critics."
Since taking office with the merger of city and county governments in January of 2003, Chief White promised to come up with ways to better utilize all personnel. He's also reducing the number of police districts from 10 to 8. He wants the realignment in place by October.
Chief White says he knows he can't make everyone happy. "I am not sure you can wake up in morning without someone having an issue with it. I am not concerned about that."
Before the proposal was made public, Chief White told Mayor Jerry Abramson he wanted to come up with a plan that was best for the city, politics aside.
Chief White says stressed that "there will be no reduction in officers or services" as a result of the reorganization.
Since joining the force and starting patrol four years ago, Officer Atilia James has kept watch on Newburg streets, a community where police see surges in crime. About 180,000 people live there. Newer and larger boundaries means street officers will see more citizens in different areas. Before the new proposal, unless it was an emergency, officers could not cross a certain line, without another district's permission.
"I believe just about every beat that is on the new plan is going to be smaller than old beats," Officer James says. "And we're going to have more officers riding that area, we will have more officers to respond for service, and we should be able to get there quicker."
Many officers could be moved around under the realignment, and Chief White has pledged to work with the police union to make the transition smooth. The Fraternal Order of Police contract calls for bargaining between the two sides if officers are transferred.
Years ago, citizens in the Portland neighborhood demanded their own police district -- and got it. But the reorganization means the current Portland and the downtown police districts are reunited again as one.
As for Newburg, groundbreaking for a new patrol station takes place in the months ahead. Longtime Newburg citizens advocate Benny Farrell likes the new plan, including a new patrol station being built somewhere along Indiana Trail, right in his backyard. "I don't think attention has been given to Newburg. When it has come to budget disposal, money, we have gotten a fan for the gym, which was inadequate, and they thought they did a great thing for Newburg."
Lynne Lyndrup, president of the Cherokee Triangle Association in the Highlands neighborhood, applauds the changes. "I am also delighted Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue are all included in the same district. They weren't before, and that created problems for the residents. They didn't know who to call if there was a problem."
"We will be educating and informing the public about the changes," said Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson.
He encouraged the public to e-mail or write him about the proposal. The mayor does not need a vote from city council for the proposal to take effect. "But we want to hear what people have to say," Mayor Abramson said.
For more information on the revised police boundaries visit http://www.lmpdky.org.
Online Reporter: Craig Hoffman