LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Fischer: Police union vote a 'distraction'


Mayor Greg Fischer dismissed suggestions that a vote by Louisville's police union that found fewer than 2 percent of members have confidence in Chief Steve Conrad's leadership is a sign of low morale.

"When I talk to our police officers what they say is, 'I just want to do my job.' And that's what I'm focusing on right now," Fischer said Thursday during an hour-long discussion on 89.3 WFPL. "These other things are a distraction to what's the most concerning to our citizens and that's to make our streets safer."

About 600 members of the River City Fraternal Order of Police participated in the vote, which asked rank-and-file officers several questions, including if they believed the department had enough manpower to function effectively and if Conrad and his staff "appropriately and efficiently assign and utilize officers"; 99 percent said no to both questions.

Ninety-seven percent said they believe they're aren't adequately supported by city leaders, the tally showed. Nearly all of the department's 1,241 sworn members are union members.

Sgt. Dave Mutchler, president of the FOP, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fischer said he stands by Conrad, who has been chief since 2012, but that he thinks about the city's violent crime surge every night. He said his administration plans to stay the course with its public safety strategies to reduce crime amid a year that saw Louisville break its all-time record for homicides with 122 citywide and Metro Police investigating 116 of those homicides alone this year.

"It's no question my biggest disappointment of this year has been our violent crime increase," Fischer said. "It's something that's like a punch in the gut to me every time."

Police statistics through Dec. 21 show homicides increased by about 45 percent and aggravated assaults are up by 19 percent this year compared to last. Property and violent crimes combined have went up by a little more than 3 percent, according to police data.

This month, Metro Council approved a $6.2 million surplus plan that includes spending about $2 million more on police and other anti-crime initiatives. Those efforts include $625,000 for several anti-violence programs coordinated through the city's safe neighborhoods office including contracts with interrupters - usually activists, former gang members and ex-drug dealers - to help quell with street-level violence before altercations happen.

Asked how the police union's vote impacts his and Conrad's leadership efforts, Fischer said when he talks to most Louisville residents and officers they are encouraging his administration to stick to its current plans to combat homicides and shootings. He said the crime surge is due to prevalence of illegal drugs and guns, and reiterated it is a national problem this year.

"One thing I can guarantee our citizens is that we're not going to give up," Fischer said. "We're going to continue to consult with national experts on this and we've had them in our city to look at this and will adjust as needed."

Fischer's discussion with the public radio station also touched on the economy, downtown development, President-elect Donald Trump and the recent incident at Jefferson Mall where two Hispanic women were accosted by another customer at JC Penney.