Councilman's solution to LMPD staffing debate: Hire more officer - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Councilman's solution to LMPD staffing debate: Hire more officers

Councilman David James (Source: WAVE 3 News) Councilman David James (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Some Louisville Metro Council Members are blistering Mayor Greg Fischer for blindsiding them with an officer shakeup at LMPD.

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"The money is there," Councilman David James said. "It's a matter of the mayor having the priority to protect human lives."

Added Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton: "The mayor did not listen to us, did not consult us, those of us who represent these communities. The chief did not ask us. We got a 15-minute notice of a press conference. That's not the way we govern this city."

That press conference happened on Sept. 16. Fischer stood behind LMPD Chief Steve Conrad as Conrad announced plans to dismantle FLEX platoons, small units within each division focused on addressing so-called quality-of-life crimes such as robberies and drug trafficking.  

Conrad said he plans to shift those officers to narcotics and SWAT roles, while returning the rest to street patrols to counter increases in violence, illegal narcotics and gang activity.

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But some council members say the net loss of those "feet on the street," six FLEX platoon officers in Barbara Shanklin's west-end district, would be devastating.

"Without the police, it might as well be the wild, wild west," said the councilwoman.

James, Bryant Hamilton, Shanklin and Councilwoman Mary Woolridge want to postpone any proposed staffing changes until November's mid-year budget adjustment, when they can find the money to hire additional officers to do what the chief wants without touching FLEX platoons.

"This is not about making more money for police," Woolridge said. "It's about making our communities safe."

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The idea has support outside of West Louisville, including from Metro Councilwoman Julie Denton, a Republican from Eastern Jefferson County.

"Part of the answer to the question to the homicide and crime rate we have in Louisville is additional officers," she said.

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WAVE 3 News asked Mayor Fischer's communications officer for comment. Spokesman Chris Poynter would only say that "the mayor supports Chief Conrad in organizing his department to most effectively respond to crime."

Click here to read why James, Bryant Hamilton, Shanklin and Woolridge want to preserve the FLEX platoons.

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