“Yesterday I participated in a meeting of the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee. The meeting was focused on the number of police officers and the needs of the department. Instead of having a productive conversation on what the department needs and how we can harness the resources of Metro Government to meet those needs, we were told that we don’t need additional training resources, that our crime rate is going in the right direction and that the chief wouldn’t share his opinion as to what size his police force should be.
To my knowledge, since the first day of Metro, the Police Department has received every single budget dollar submitted in the Mayor’s Budget. In each year the Council has asked the Chief if the department was in need of additional staffing or resources and in each they were told that they had the resources they needed to protect our community.
In the past year, the rate of homicides/murders as well as the number of shootings have skyrocketed. Last year ended with a record number of murders. increasing to 126 from the previous record of 85 in the prior year and 58 in 2014. In addition the council pushed for innovation on tools like Shotspotter, while the department seemed uninterested. The Metro Council allocated every dollar the administration requested for overtime, despite the Chief acknowledging that he didn’t have a plan for its use. We quickly found out how true that was, when just weeks later we were told that the police department was reducing overtime because most of the money had already been spent.
Last year allegations against officers working in the Explorer program surfaced, and it wasn’t until this year that any administrative actions were taken. Finally, it was late last year that the River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614, the union that represents Metro Officers overwhelmingly (95%) supported a vote of no confidence in Chief Conrad and his leadership.
For months I have been asked publicly if the Chief should be replaced. For a much longer period of time, I and other leaders on the Metro Council have been pressing for change, but mindful of the fact that the hiring and firing of a chief is something only a Mayor can do. I have consistently stated my concerns, but given deference to the Mayor on personnel matters. Unfortunately today, the murders continue, the shootings continue, and the lack of leadership from the Chief continues.
Chief Conrad is a good and decent man. He has served this community for decades in a fair and honorable way and I thank him for his willingness to put his life on the line to make our city a better place. Unfortunately, I believe the time has come for a change in leadership at the Louisville Metro Police Department. I will no longer sit by and say it is the Mayor’s call and hope that action would follow. Instead, I will step out and say that I no longer have the confidence that Chief Conrad has the ability to right the ship and help direct this city and its many neighborhoods to be the safe places we all desire.