Two police chiefs take stand in LMPD whistleblower case

LMPD chief, former assistant chief testify against whistleblower
Updated: Aug. 9, 2018 at 7:42 PM EDT
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LMPD Chief Steve Conrad took the stand again on Thursday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad took the stand again on Thursday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former LMPD Assistant Chief Kim Kraeszig (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former LMPD Assistant Chief Kim Kraeszig (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Two police chiefs testified Thursday in the whistleblower lawsuit against the city of Louisville.

Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad was back on the stand after testifying most of Wednesday afternoon.

The case pits LMPD Major-turned-Lieutenant Jimmy Harper against the city.

Harper claims he was demoted for criticizing the chief's leadership and talking to city leaders about it. He currently serves on LMPD's River Patrol.

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Thursday morning, Conrad was called back to the stand by Harper's attorney Tom Clay.

Clay asked the chief about overtime that was meant to help reduce violent crime in six neighborhoods.

Harper claims that money was mismanaged, and he was vocal about it. The chief testified he was trying to push the overtime after crime had increased, but later found out $448,000 had been spent in a six week period, which didn't include benefits.

There's an ongoing criminal investigation into officers who allegedly got overtime they didn't work. The chief said the Public Integrity Unit (PIU) initiated the investigation. Here's how that played out in court:

Clay: "Did you order the PIU investigation?"
Conrad: "No sir, I did not."
Clay: "Who did?
Conrad: "It wasn't ordered as I indicated in testimony (Wednesday), the Public Integrity Unit can issue investigations on their own."
Clay: "So they initiated this investigation on their own?"
Conrad: "That is the way it started, yes sir."
Clay: "Would you agree the handling of this overtime money was mismanagement?"
Conrad: "No sir, I would not."

Clay continued to try and prove Harper's complaint about police mismanagement is what got his client demoted to river patrol. Conrad told jurors that was not the case and there were many reasons for the demotion.

"He was complaining to my boss (mayor) about a decision he didn't agree with," Conrad said of Harper. "It (Harper's demotion) had to do with management of the Louisville police department, it had to do with my decision as chief to take the department in a different direction to do what I could to make this city safer."

Former LMPD Assistant Chief Kim Kraeszig, now the Bardstown Police Chief, testified Harper was an exceptional officer for a long time who became disgruntled when he was moved to LMPD's 2nd Division.

"It was like he didn't want to be part of the team anymore and it was like he wanted to distance himself from the command staff to the point where I pulled him aside several times," Kraeszig said, "and I said, 'Are you trying to get yourself demoted?'"

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Kraeszig told the court she wanted to suspend Harper after a Derby detail where he demanded more officers at one site, and then told those officers to go to other locations. Kraeszig testified after Harper was demoted, that he was the one who wanted to work on the river after it was first suggested by her brother, LMPD Major Todd Kessinger.

"I said, 'If that's where you want to go, I'll see if I can make that happen,'" Kraeszig told the jury.

Clay asked Kraeszig is she was familiar with the television series The Wire.

Kraeszig answered, "No sir."

Clay was referencing a show on which the fictional Detective Jimmy McNulty is a cop whose disrespect of supervisors and the chain of command gets him booted to River Patrol.

When asked about low LMPD morale, Kraeszig told jurors it happens under every chief, including to her, now. She said when she cancels days off for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, she's certain her officers probably aren't happy about it.

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