Fired LMPD officer reinstated, chairman calls it a step back

Published: May. 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2011 at 8:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville Metro Police narcotics officer accused of tipping off a prosecutor, who is the brother of Attorney General Jack Conway, could be back on the force. Ronald Russ was fired last year, but the police merit board voted to give him back his job.

The vote to rehire Russ was not a unanimous one. Two voted in favor of upholding Russ' firing, while three voted just to suspend him.

Russ, who has 19 years in law enforcement, was fired from his job in mid-December 2010 after police say he tipped off former Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Matt Conway, that he was being investigated by Metro Narcotics.

"He did do something wrong and we said that to the board," said Russ's attorney David Leightty. "What the board found and what we said was the penalty for termination is excessive and not appropriate for what he did."

The chairman of the board, Rev. Dr. Alex J. Moses, Sr., says those who voted to reinstate him were swayed because another officer investigated in the same case only got suspended, but Moses voted in favor of the firing.

"Yes he was very sorry, but the damage had already been done and to restore him to that position, I thought it would have a great impact," said Moses. "It would bring about community unrest, even to the point of a lack of trust, taking a step back."

Russ will get back pay from his mid-December firing, but will not be paid for his 30-day suspension included in that time, unless the police department appeals. LMPD has 30 days once the formal report is written up, but that decision is up to Chief Robert White.

The chairman of the Republican State Party, Steve Robertson, is calling on Attorney General Jack Conway to talk about the issue and make sure he wasn't involved.

Russ' attorney says there wasn't political motivation and that Russ has never even met the attorney general.

Copyright 2011 WAVE News. All rights reserved.