‘They’re just looking for leadership’: Former LMPD officers hoping new chief will bring stability to department

‘They’re just looking for leadership’: Former LMPD officers hoping new chief will bring stability to department
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:32 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville mayor-elect Craig Greenberg confirmed Monday afternoon Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields will be resigning following the end of current mayor Greg Fischer’s term.

Greenberg told reporters Monday he would name an interim chief before he takes office on Jan. 2, 2023.

He said he will also work with his transition team and a search firm to find a permanent chief.

That scenario would mean Louisville will have had six police chiefs, including interims, in fewer than three years.

For some former LMPD officers, that many leaders in that short of a time period is worrisome.

“For the patrolmen and the detectives, it’s chaos,” Rick Arnold said. “I mean, constant turnover and no, no sustainability in those positions means they’re always probably wondering what’s next.”

Arnold is a former homicide detective and has been retired since 2011.

He told WAVE News he went through a similar period of uncertainty during the government merger in 2003.

“They were eliminating units,” Arnold said. “They were making units. With a new chief, you never know what’s going to stay and what’s going to go. I mean, we had a major case unit on the county police that got eliminated. All these detectives now, and even the patrolman, don’t know are they going to be on eight-hour shifts, they going to be on 10-hour shifts, they’re going to do 12-hour shifts. All the unknown just hurts morale even more and more.”

Troy Riggs has a similar perspective.

He served as LMPD’s Chief of Staff under former chief Robert White, and eventually became chief of police in other departments across the country.

He shared his perspective with WAVE News from both sides of an administrative change.

“You have to be seen constantly in the community, but you have to be seen internally too, communicating constantly with your workforce,” Riggs said. “You have to make sure that those mid-level managers, those individual sergeants and lieutenants and above are doing the job they’re called to do, and if not they need to be held accountable as well.”

Both Riggs and Arnold told WAVE News it’s common for a mayor to appoint his own police chief, but they also said it will likely mean more transition for a city that’s been through so much of it since May of 2020.

They said this hire could go a long way to define Greenberg’s tenure as mayor.

“I just think it’s a critical time for the city from a police standpoint,” Arnold said.

“They’re just looking for leadership; they just want a direction,” Riggs said.

Greenberg begins his tenure as mayor on Jan. 2, 2023. Shields will resign concurrently.