Mayor's budget calls for more police, mostly downtown - News, Weather & Sports

Mayor's budget calls for more police, mostly downtown

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Mayor Greg Fischer's proposed budget calls for a boost in spending for public safety, including two dozen more officers for the Louisville Metro Police Department, most of whom would be assigned downtown.

Two weeks away from graduating, 22 soon-to-be Louisville Metro Police officers were getting a primer on dealing with news coverage and building trust among the citizens the will serve Thursday.

"Give confidence to the public that there's safety and order in society," Sgt. Phil Russell told them. "There's kind of a misunderstanding about what the job is of police to do."

Mayor Fischer is hopeful his proposed budget for next year will correct that. As part of the budget he would add 15 recruits to the next LMPD training class beginning in June and nine more to the class that begins in September.

The boost in force would allow LMPD to assign more officers downtown.

"We'll spread those out on different shifts and different days of the week based off of when we think we need them," Lt. Col. Ozzy Gibson  said. "You will see them on bikes, you'll see them on ATVs."

The strategy is to make the police presence obvious to the point of unavoidable. They will base at a new "Area Patrol" at the Kentucky International Convention Center at 2nd and Jefferson Streets.

"I don't know honestly, if that'll be a deterrent or not," said Paula Bader, operator of a gas station and convenience store one block away. "The group of kids that we deal with, aren't afraid of things."

She needs no more proof that the surveillance video her security cameras recorded in March, when roaming groups of tween-and-teenagers attacked a middle school student and a grandfather in Waterfront Park. Several dozen converged on her store after police cleared the park. At least one helped himself to snacks and bolted out the front door without paying for them.

"When you still get a group of kids that are fifty or higher in numbers, four, five, six, seven police officers can't contain them," Bader said.

But Mayor Fischer and Metro Police are counting on the Real Time Information Center to intercept such groupings before they turn violent. The Center is more than a war room to monitor the more than two dozen security cameras installed at Waterfront Park and throughout downtown. The Mayor wants to add crime analysts.

"They'll have the ability to monitor social media," Lt. Col. Gibson said. "We're actually gonna buy different software so that we can stay ahead of the game."

But Paula Bader believes the battle is about more than more law officers.

"It's gonna have to start with these kids families," she said. "Cracking down on these kids at home, helping them find things to do. But making sure that they know that when they want something, it's not okay to simply take it."

To view the entire 2014-15 recommended budget, click here.

For more information about the budget, click here.

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