LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Real impact of local violence: LMPD chief speaks out


WLKY's investigation, the Real Impact of Local Violence, gave a stunning snapshot of the fallout from violent crime on Louisville's streets.

Louisville's police chief, Steve Conrad, responded to our findings in an interview with WLKY's Duane Pohlman.

It was a surprisingly candid interview. Among other things, Conrad said we can't arrest our way out of the problem.

"I came to Louisville with a vision of us creating the kind of community that we all want Louisville to be," said Conrad. "My vision is that we become the safest city in America and I haven't shied away from that."

Conrad may not be shying away from it, but since his arrival last March, his view of Louisville's streets is far from his vision.

"We all saw what happened. We all saw how brazen it was. We all saw the way things occurred, and I think everyone in our community saw that we need to work together to make a change," said Conrad.

"The problem that I have, and I think you laid it out pretty well, is people resolving conflict with a gun," said Conrad.

Since the shootings that left three dead in May, the Metro saw an overall increase in homicides, from 51 in 2011 to 62 in 2012.

To combat that, Conrad stepped up police presence in troubled areas and unleashed the VIPER Unit, aimed squarely at targeting criminals and guns.

In the first three months, the VIPER Unit took more than 100 guns off the streets. More than 60 of them were in the hands of criminals.

The police work has paid off.

"We are going to report a 2 percent decrease in violent crime, about a 10 percent decrease in property crime and an overall decrease of about 9 percent, which is the first time since 2009 that we've been able to report a decreasing crime rate in Metro Louisville," said Conrad.

As important as that police work is, Conrad said his officers alone won't stop the killings.

"In the short term, it is impossible to prevent somebody who has decided they are going to perpetrate a violent crime. The solution to violent crime is complicated, it's complex and the solutions are going to require a lot of people being involved," said Conrad. "Last year, we made over 37,000 arrests. We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem."

Mayor Greg Fischer stepped up with a violence prevention task force, which has already handed down some potential solutions by addressing everything from education to alcohol and drug treatment to jobs.

Approaching all the issues behind the violence, Conrad said, is the only way to reduce the killings.

"This is the time. This is the opportunity. If we truly want Louisville to be the safest community in America; if we truly want Louisville to be a leader; if we continue to want Louisville to be a leader, now is the time to get involved," said Conrad.

Conrad urges everyone to get involved in the solution, volunteering for things like Big Brothers Big Sisters, even counseling those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Those small steps, Conrad said, can go a long way to reverse the cycle of violence on our streets.