Email reveals LMPD may have feared escalating attacks ahead of flash mob violence

Published: Mar. 27, 2014 at 10:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2014 at 10:22 PM EDT
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Deputy Chief Yvette Gentry
Deputy Chief Yvette Gentry
LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad
LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad
Councilman Jerry Miller
Councilman Jerry Miller
Sgt. Robert Biven
Sgt. Robert Biven

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An email from a deputy police chief suggests the Louisville Metro Police Department feared escalating attacks along the waterfront long before chaos erupted Saturday night.

LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office are continuing to call what happened an aberration, but an email and the report that goes with it, revealed some on the police force saw the problems building.

In the hours that followed Saturday's mob violence Deputy Chief Yvette Gentry wrote the document titled "Flash Mob Violence." The document made it clear the department had been concerned about the issue for some time, stating, "Over the past few months, violence has been an issue that has left numerous law abiding citizens victimized, some with moderate to serious injuries."

It appears her boss, Chief Conrad, didn't get that memo.

"This is the first problems that we've seen in that area that I'm aware of since the first of this year," Conrad said.

At a press conference about the attacks on Sunday night, Conrad said, "It was an exception to the normal experience we see at Waterfront Park."

The next morning, the risks were downplayed once again.

When asked what he knew about problems that occurred at Waterfront Park in the past Conrad said, "Really not much."

But in the email that described the incident sent to the city's public safety group, Gentry made it clear the threat had been building for some time.

"Over the past several weeks the number of incidents are rising and the damage and violence is becoming more severe," Gentry wrote.

"It says to me that there was a level of awareness in LMPD that there was an ongoing and growing problem," said Louisville Metro Council Member Jerry Miller (D-District 19).

When asked to review the deputy chief's letter Miller responded and said the message is clear, "That they're being overwhelmed. They just can't handle flash mobs."

The document even lists specific problematic locations in addition to Saturday night's flash points, including much of West Broadway and parts of the California and Parkland Neighborhoods, painting a very different picture to judges, prosecutors and other officials than what the city was saying to the public.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, "This was an extraordinarily unusual incident nothing like this has happened in decades."

A spokesman told me today "the Mayor's statement is accurate. We have never had an incident like what happened Saturday on that scale"

We asked Sgt. Robert Biven, commander of LMPD Public Information Office, if he thought police could have been more forthright.

"I think we were forthright," said Biven. "Twenty one incidents, seven robberies, four assaults take place in a matter of two hours with multiple groups that had dispersed the park, that was something that was very unusual to the community."

Still, the document contained a chilling warning stating, "The major concern is that someone is going to get killed during an incident. That someone could be a very young child."

In recent weeks, LMPD said it stepped up patrols in some of the hot spots mentioned in the Flash Mob Violence summary. Mostly in response to escalating tensions after the fatal stabbing of a teen on a TARC bus.

To view the email about written about the flash mob violence, click here.

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