LMPD short 250 officers as city hits 100th homicide

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 4:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:55 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Police Department is short 241 sworn officers and has a total of 312 vacancies as homicide rates skyrocket across the city.

“I really want folks to understand the difficulties that I’m experiencing navigating our shortage of personnel, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get more pronounced as the time goes on, as we get into the summer months, and more people leave the department,” Chief Erika Shields said during LMPD’s new podcast.

The shortage of staff is putting extra pressure on an already overwhelmed homicide unit, which has worked 100 homicides so far this year. In the past two years, the homicide unit has lost around half of its detectives and has taken on nearly double the workload, according to Lt. Donnie Burbrink who supervises the unit.

“If I pick up a homicide today, at the rate we’re on right now, in two weeks I’ll pick up another homicide,” Burbrink said. “In between those two weeks, I still have to go out and help other detectives with their homicides. It’s just a nonstop thing.”

The FBI recommends detectives work around four homicide cases a year. LMPD’s homicide detectives are working close to 15, according to Burbrink.

Burbrink said the growth in homicide rates, along with the staff shortage are to blame for this year’s low clearance rate at 32 percent. That leaves 64 homicide victims’ families waiting for answers. Krista Gwynn knows what it’s like to have a loved one on that list of unsolved cases. Her son, Christian, was murdered in 2019 while walking down Market St. It took 16 months for police to identity a suspect.

“Even though we got an arrest on my son, I’m still out here advocating because there are other people who need answers,” Gwynn said.

Burbrink believes efforts like Gwynn’s might be part of the solution.

“The violence in this city is not a police problem alone, it’s a community problem, and until the community can step up with us and help us write this ship, I don’t think we can get to where we need to be,” Burbrink said.

To anonymously provide a tip about an LMPD case, call 574-LMPD (5673).

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