Complex factors play into crime rates, but Louisville Metro Police's efforts in community engagement, “intelligence-led” policing and targeting repeat offenders are helping drive numbers downward, Chief Steve Conrad told WFPL on Tuesday.
“We believe that the work of the men and women that are out there doing the job is important and their efforts do have an impact on crime, but there are so many other external factors that often are beyond our control,” Conrad said.
Conrad was speaking as the FBI released its annual set of national and local crime statistics.
This year, crime fell in Louisville Metro Police's jurisdiction by more than nine percent, Conrad said.
Here's a WFPL story with graphics breaking down the statistics in LMPD's jurisdiction. I also posted on Tuesday 2012 statistics on a map for all Kentucky municipalities.
In LMPD's jurisdiction, violent crime decreased 2.4 percent and property crime decreased 10.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. But homicides and aggravated assaults increased.
Overall crime in the city increased in 2010 and 2011, Conrad said.
“In 2012, we saw the largest single decrease in overall crime—that’s violent crime and property crime added together—that we’d seen in over five years,” he said.
“We had also seen the largest single-year decrease in property crime that we had experienced in over five years. Unfortunately, we saw a very significant increase in the number of murders, or homicides, that we committed in our city. Every one of the other crime categories were down and down significantly, but clearly, as we have now worked our way into 2013, we have more work to do.”
Louisville has had 39 homicides so far in 2013.
What LMPD is Doing
Conrad became Louisville Metro Police chief in March 2009, becoming the agency's second leader since the old Louisville Police and Jefferson County Police department's merged. He'd been a top LMPD administrator before leaving in 2005 to lead Glendale Police in Arizona.
He attributes several initiatives to addressing crime in the city: using statistics and intelligence in policing, targeting “hotspots” for crime, targeting repeat offenders (more on that in a minute), cooperating more with other law agencies and furthering efforts to engage community members.
“So often, you think of interaction with police as either you’re a witness to a crime or you’ve been a crime victim,” Conrad said. “But for us to be effective, it’s important that we engage citizens as partners, whether it be through our neighborhood or block watch programs, through our different advisory committees, meeting with them at community meetings.
“I think for us to be effective and truly addressing crime in our community it’s truly contingent on getting the community involved, keeping them involved and doing what we can together in trying to try to make our city safer.”
In targeting “hotspots”—places where more crime is happening, essentially—and using statistics and intelligence, Conrad points to the VIPER Unit as an example. The unit was created about a year ago to go after repeat violent offenders; recently, LMPD officials told Metro Council members that it's been successful.
For more than a year, police executives from the Jefferson County police agencies—suburban departments, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the like—have had weekly meetings to “make sure they're talking at a high level in coordinating our efforts and our abilities to work together to address crime.”
So What About 2013?
The FBI, obviously, released its official statistics for a year long after Jan. 1. But LMPD regularly files statistics with the state, which are then shared with the FBI.
So far, they have preliminary statistics through July 2013.
“Looking at the first seven months of 2013 as compared to the first seven months of 2012, we’re seeing the trends continue—through the first seven months of the year, violent crime, property crime and overall crime is down,” Conrad said. “We did see a spike in violence in our community there at the end of July and through August. We’ll have to see how the rest of the year plays out, but there is always more work to do.”