LMPD chief backs new plan to combat rising violence

LMPD chief backs new plan to combat rising violence

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - "I lose sleep worrying about them," Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said about his officers. "I lose sleep worrying about the crime victims in our community."

Friday after a hearing with Louisville Metro Council's Budget Committee, the chief opened up about the toll the city's violence has on everyone, including himself.

Conrad hopes the metro council will approve his next move which he believes will halt the surge in violence.

The new plan comes a time of murder, shootings - and blame.

"I sit in a nice office and I go to a lot of meetings and I take a lot of criticism that, and I take a lot of questions that I think are fair." Conrad said. "That's my role."

Criticism, he said, is expected, but his concern is bringing the violence down now.

"No one wants to see the kind of violence that we're seeing in the city," Conrad said.

Overtime for officers

The chief may have $2 million from the city's budget surplus to help LMPD attack the problem. That's if the metro council gives him the thumbs up.

A little more than half of that cash - $1,238,000 - would help flood the city's deadliest neighborhoods with patrols working overtime. Those neighborhoods include Shawnee, Park Hill, Smoketown, Russell, California, Shelby Park and Beecher Terrace.

"It's things that we should have been doing quite a long time ago," said Councilman David James, a Democrat who represents the council's sixth district, covering several of those neighborhoods and the downtown area.

The patrols would be on foot, bikes, even horses. Their job would include walking the streets, making friends and sources, serving warrants and helping to solve crimes by conducting field interviews. Officers would also pass out crime kit cards designed to garner anonymous tips. Those are things the chief says officers constantly responding to calls can't always do.

James likes the idea but says more full time officers are needed.

"But with not having enough police officers here in the city, we have to supplement that by having to spend overtime," James said.

The overtime cash would last from now until June, the end of the fiscal year. The $1,238,000 would pay for roughly 23,000 hours of overtime. That is the equivalent of paying 22 full time officers for that six month window, or 11 new officers for a year.

Help from the feds

During the six months of extra patrolling, the chief would like to also set up a task force comprised of LMPD, the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the US Marshal's office. The partnership would allow LMPD to tap into the bag of tools the feds have at their disposal to convict criminal for more serious charges with longer sentences. It's a story WAVE 3 News covered months ago when the FBI told us they plan on helping not only LMPD, but also prosecutors on getting certain types of convictions.

"Instead of maybe just going after a traditional drug trafficking conspiracy, there's a whole host of other federal violations we can use," FBI agent Craig Donnachie told us in September.

He refers to violations like felonious possession of a firearm, extortion or specific charges for crossing state lines under the Hobbs Act.

"It's just an extra tool or option that they didn't have without us," he said.

The FBI also has the cash and ability to wiretap and set up surveillance cameras.

"When it comes time to indict, we can indict 10 or 15 in one shot as opposed to trying to just trying to arrest just one or two in a period of one year," Donnachie said.

The FBI also has the ability to federally deputize LMPD, making them another agent on their task force. They can also embed agents into drug units.

The chief hopes combining the task force with the extra patrols will help halt the violence.

Adding more cops

"Until the day I am no longer chief I will do everything I can in my power to try to make our community safer," he said.

Part of the plan is also to hire 28 new officers, bringing the total to 150 this fiscal year. That is the most the department can hire in one year because there is no room to train any more, Conrad explained during the hearing.

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"I don't think any of us are going to rest easy or feel any sense of comfort until we start seeing some changes," Conrad said.

The budget committee will vote on the plan next week before it goes to the full council.

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