Jail overflow highlights LMPD headquarters problems

Jail overflow highlights LMPD headquarters problems
LMPD headquarters (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Inmates being held in the overflow area of  LMPD caused a mess last week, pushing jumpsuits down toilets, causing sewage backup in the Police Chief's office.

The mess has been cleaned up, and the minimum custody inmates have been switched out, but the incident  may have highlighted an even bigger mess of jail overcrowding and the need for a new LMPD headquarters.

"The inmate or inmates that decided to flush articles of clothing down a toilet, you know, that happens in jails and prisons every day," Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said.

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The problem is, it happened in the old LMPD headquarters building. Bolton said there's no conspiracy with the Police Chief's office getting hit with the sewage backup on June 5, the old LMPD headquarters has old plumbing.

When the jail population tops 2,050, which has been the case most of the year, inmates can be moved to the facility above LMPD headquarters.

"I have to make a decision whether to put 50 to 60 people in units built for 24," Bolton said. "Or I try to relieve the pressure by housing people over there."

Besides spending $130,000 on plumbing repairs, Bolton says it's costing $2.9 million in overtime staffing, as the third floor of the old LMPD headquarters building has to put officers on fire watch with no sprinkler system. It has cooling issues and must use portable air conditioning units. It does not meet state jail standards or the American Correctional Association requirements.

"Police Headquarters itself, is a building that's falling apart and is an unhealthy situation for people to even work in.," Metro Council President David James said.

A recent Louisville Metro Facility Needs Study found the building's exterior including the roof, wall cladding, brick veneer and windows are also in poor condition. Ultimately the movement to a new build for LMPD and the old fiscal court should happen sooner than later, according to James.

"We need to do this, and we need to do it in a very thoughtful way," James said, "We only want to do this once, and so I hope that we have a solution that we will be talking about over these next few months that we can all agree on and move forward as quickly as possible."

The public should expect to hear the Metro Council talking about the buildings in upcoming budget talks. Bolton says for the immediate future they have to be more creative, and look at bail reform.

He said the jail is holding a lot inmates with low bonds and low level warrants and that's something that needs to be looked at.

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