LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Dozens of LMPD officers have left the department in the last two months.
It was July when WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters reported 119 officers had left the department in the span of a year. Since that exclusive investigation, WAVE 3 News confirmed another 46 officers decided to leave, too.
Those numbers surprised Omar Porter. He grew up on the corner of Garland and 31st Street, where his mom still lives 42 years later. He said he checks on her all the time, and with good reason. Saturday, a shot-up body was found in front of her house by someone driving past.
“It’s like a black cloud or something, over around just around this neighborhood,” Porter said.
To him, the fewer officers on the street, the more worried he gets.
“Around in this neighborhood we really do need, you know, police patrolling this neighborhood real good because there’s a lot of violence down this way,” he told WAVE 3 News.
Porter isn’t alone. Several people from the block echoed a concern for a department with fewer officers.
Of the officers who left LMPD in the two months, nearly half of them were those with experience, either a sergeant rank or higher. The list included 32 officers who retired and 14 who simply resigned. The most common listed reason for those quitting was to go to another department.
“I guess it makes me feel a little unsafe,” Porter said.
LMPD brass met Monday morning to figure out how to deal with having fewer officers on the street. The meeting included LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and members of his upper command, like majors in charge of the divisions.
The department would not confirm what changes could arise from the meeting, like a possible merger between the 9th Mobile, a roaming group of officers targeting drugs and illegal guns, and the Narcotics Unit.
Jesse Halladay, a spokesperson for LMPD, told WAVE 3 News that they have been discussing about possible changes due to the budget crisis.
Monday, Halladay would not say just how many fewer officers the department is bracing to lose, stating the number could fluctuate in the next year and a half. In a previous WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter investigation in July, Halladay said LMPD expected to have 60 fewer officers on the street. She would not say if that number was still accurate.
As part of that investigation, WAVE 3 News reported the department had lost 10 percent its officers since July 2018.
In July, Halladay stated the loss was part of a problematic national recruiting and retention trend, and that the state’s pension crisis was largely responsible for the number of the officers retiring.
At the time, former LMPD Officer Skylar Graudick said it wasn't just about the pension. He noted low morale among officers, heightened public scrutiny and discontentment with the city's administration of the department.
Of the 119 officers who left between July 2018 and July 2019, 68 of them resigned. Another 51 retired.
WAVE 3 News also discovered several other agencies have recently hired former LMPD officers. A comparison found other departments, like Shepherdsville, Middletown, Jeffersontown and St. Matthews, are offering higher pay and cheaper health insurance and other benefits.
Halladay said LMPD has not made any official changes yet, but when it does, it will make them public.