LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville could lose major public safety necessities under Fischer's budget cuts


Mayor Greg Fischer's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year will include steep cuts to public safety, but the cuts will not be as severe as what Fischer hinted at earlier this year.

The proposed fiscal year 2020 budget unveiled by Fischer on Thursday calls for about $9.6 million in cuts to public safety and the elimination of 81 public safety positions.

That's a decrease from the nearly $16 million in public safety cuts and 278 eliminated positions that Fischer suggested may be necessary in February.

Fischer has previously said the cuts are necessary to help fill an upcoming $35 million budget gap caused by the state-mandated pension increase that continues to grow each year.

To avoid cuts to services, Fischer had originally proposed tripling the current 5% premium insurance tax over four years to fill the looming budget gap.

An alternative plan that paired a smaller tax hike with various cuts failed to get enough Metro Council votes in March.

Among the proposed cuts unveiled Thursday are the elimination of an upcoming Louisville Metro Police Department recruit class as well as one fire station and one ambulance.

Fischer still calls for cutting a June LMPD recruit class - representing roughly 48 officers - but instead of also eliminating two classes in fiscal year 2020, Fischer calls for delaying those two classes.

In February, Fischer suggested that the three upcoming LMPD recruit classes - representing about 100 officers - would need to be eliminated to save $7.5 million.

The police cuts put forth Thursday would result in about $5.5 million in savings, according to Fischer.

Some of those savings come from a new plan to eliminate school resource officers at Jefferson County Public Schools to allow roughly 19 officers and sergeants to redeploy.

Fischer's budget released Thursday still recommends cutting the gunshot detection technology ShotSpotter to save $400,000.

Nicolai Jilek, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, pointed out in a tweet Thursday afternoon that the mayor's own budget document notes that the proposed cuts could lead to "more officer safety issues."

"Officer safety issues = LMPD officers getting injured or killed," Jilek tweeted.

Fischer, as well as budget committee chairman Bill Hollander, D-9th District, and others, have said the cuts will hit every aspect of city government and that there are no "sacred cows."

LMPD spokeswoman Jessie Halladay said her department was glad to see the mayor's proposal would not have LMPD completely eliminate three recruiting classes.

She said LMPD knew that there was no budget scenario that would keep the department immune from budget cuts, but said that LMPD is hopeful the council works to keep heavy cuts away from the department.

"What we've said all along is this is the mayor's proposal," Halladay said. "We've heard different things from the council about what they want to do with public safety. We'll see what they come up with."

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad told council members in February that the reduction in new officers would lead to slower response times, delayed investigations, fewer opportunities for community outreach and, "inevitably," an increase in crime.

When LMPD said in March it was canceling a recruit class - before Fischer released his budget proposal - Democrats and Republicans gathered to urge Fischer to stop the "scare tactics."

"Public safety is an area that all who voted 'no' said is a priority when it comes to cutting the budget. We do not want public safety to be affected," Councilwoman Jessica Green, D-1st, said at a press conference last month.

Here are the other public safety cuts Fischer unveiled Thursday:

Louisville Fire

Under Fischer's proposed budget, the Grade Lane fire station near Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport will close.

The closure will result in 15 eliminated positions and $1.7 million in savings, according to Fischer's budget proposal.

Earlier this year, Fischer had suggested closing two of the city's 21 fire stations and eliminating 30 positions in order to save $3.4 million.

According to documents outlining the budget cuts, the closure of the fire station at 1100 Grade Lane will "greatly lengthen response times for fire services, potentially delaying life-saving operations."

The closure could also mean the loss of Louisville's Insurance Service Office rating, which would increase insurance rates across the community, according to Fischer.

The 1100 Grade Lane fire station is one of three Hazmat stations in the city, according to Bobby Cooper, public information officer for the Louisville Fire Department.

Cooper said his department is still looking for other options to make the cuts that have been requested. "There's a lot of 'if' still," he said.

While he acknowledged that the Grade Lane station isn't as utilized as some of the other stations, he said it did respond to 935 calls in 2018, including 61 fires and 363 rescues.

Metro Councilwoman Nicole George, whose district includes the Grade Lane fire station, said she is concerned about what the station's closure could mean for response times for nearby residents, but said she isn't surprised by the mayor's proposal to close it.

"We knew there had to be cuts," she said. "We have a revenue issue."

Suburban fire districts

As suggested earlier this year, general fund support for suburban fire districts will be eliminated under Fischer's budget.

The elimination of $162,000 in funding affects equipment used by dive team personnel and in trench rescue operations and other special operations.

Fire Chief Adam Jones, president of the Jefferson County Suburban Fire Association, said his organization had been fighting to show the need for continuing the funding and said it's "disheartening" to see the cut in the mayor's budget proposal.

He said the money also pays for training for things like swift water rescue and hazmat.

"The goal is to provide the same services to the citizens on the street but I'm not sure how that will happen at the moment," Jones said.

Emergency services

Fischer's budget calls for taking one of the city's 26 ambulances out of service and eliminating 17 positions in Louisville Metro Emergency Services.

The mayor had suggested eliminating one ambulance but only 10 positions in February to save $800,000.

Cutting 17 positions and one ambulance will save the city an estimated $1.27 million but will lengthen wait time for emergency medical services, according to Fischer's budget proposal.


The command staff for Louisville Metro Department of Corrections will be reduced by one position in order to save $93,100, according to Fischer's budget proposal.

The proposed cuts to Metro Corrections are less severe than what was suggested in February. Fischer originally suggested independently operating the Community Correctional Center for part of a year and eliminating 20 positions in Metro Corrections in order to save $750,000.

Cure Violence

The city will eliminate one of four Cure Violence sites that are run by the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, according to Fischer's budget proposal.

The elimination of the site at 448 N. 26th St., which is led by the anti-violence group No More Red Dots, would save the city roughly $446,000, according to Fischer's plan.

The city's Cure Violence program treats violence like an infectious disease and employs "violence interrupters" who go into high-crime areas to calm tensions. The program has been touted as helping reduce homicides and gun violence in Louisville over the years.

The Cure Violence site on 26th Street has acted as a space where at-risk and gang-involved youth can go for mentoring and tutoring, according to a past report from No More Red Dots.

Eliminating it will "reduce the ability to interrupt shootings and homicides" and "likely lead to a higher crime rate," according to Fischer's budget proposal.

Youth Detention Services

Fischer's budget calls for a reduction in overtime for staff at Youth Detention Services.

That's a marked shift from February, when Fischer suggested returning operation of Youth Detention Services to the state and cutting 118 positions in order to save $2.4 million.

Cost savings related to reductions in overtime are subject to population levels at Youth Detention Services, according to Fischer's budget proposal.