Are more police officers the answer to tackling the city's violence? Some Louisville Metro Council members say they want to hire 100 of them, but are frustrated with the police department's lack of answers.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad admitted that he needs more police officers Wednesday afternoon, but wouldn't tell council members how many.
At Metro Council's Public Safety Committee meeting, Conrad fielded questions about a resolution to put aside money to hire 100 new police officers, which could cost around $9 million.
The resolution is sponsored by Councilman Brent Ackerson (D-26), who says crime rates are up city-wide, something Conrad doesn't agree with.
Ackerson said more officers would address violent crimes in the city's hot spots, as well as rising property crimes in the suburbs. His study shows auto thefts are up in nearly every district in the city.
Both Ackerson and Councilwoman Angela Leet (R-7) asked Conrad how many officers the department needs.
"I'll have an opportunity to talk during the budget hearing," Conrad replied.
Conrad said he made recommendations to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer about how many officers should be included in the next budget, but he won't give away that number until the Mayor presents the budget later this month.
Council members were not pleased with Conrad's response.
"We asked the blunt question of what you think we should be at. He's our expert," Ackerson said. "Well, I don't feel like he's my expert anymore, because he won't tell me what he thinks is reasonable."
"There is some frustration from council members about some of the transparency issues with the police department, and many other agencies within metro government," said Councilman David James (D-6). "I think what the chief is really saying is that the number he wants, and the mayor will allow him to have, may be two different numbers."
Conrad declined a request for an interview after the meeting.
The Mayor's Office released a statement that said public safety is Mayor Fischer's top priority, and accounts for 60 percent of the city budget.
"When the Mayor presents his new budget next Thursday, citizens will see further investments in both short-term crime fighting via LMPD, and long-term initiatives through Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and other programs," said spokesperson Chris Poynter. "The Mayor has to weigh the city's many needs, from street paving to affordable housing to public safety and many others."
An independent staffing study commissioned for LMPD in 2015 states "the department appears to be fully staffed."
The resolution has been tabled until the Mayor presents his budget to council on April 28.