Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad told the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday his goal is to make the city the safest in America, but budget constraints mean residents must do their part to make neighborhoods safer.
The chief has met with several community groups and local leaders since being sworn-in earlier this month and has challenged audiences to help officers make “Louisville the safest city in America”, but this was his first testimony before city lawmakers.
Council members asked the chief about adding more foot patrols, improving youth outreach and focusing on crimes surrounding the city’s growing number of vacant properties.
Conrad says blight associated with abandoned property can lead to violent crime, but that citizens have to take more responsibility to improve their neighborhoods
“We need to work as a community to address those signs of disorder that would send to anyone the message that we don’t care about our neighborhoods,” he says. “And I don’t know in these tough economic times that it’s necessarily realistic for members of our community to look to Metro Government to find ways to solve all of those problems. I think those neighbors have a vested interest in making sure that neighborhood looks good. And I think if they do their part we can work on doing our part.”
Mayor Greg Fischer’s recent budget did fill a $12 million shortfall in part by delaying the a police recruit class in March until late June, which saved the city about $688,000. The mayor said the decision would have little to no impact on public safety, however.
Public Safety Chairman David James, D-6, quizzed Conrad about violent crime, asking the chief how the force plans to address gang activity and reduce the high number of shootings that don’t result in homicides.
“Last year we had 194 shootings and 54 murders in Louisville, and it’s tragic when we lose a life due to violence. But in many instances the only difference between a shooting and a murder is shot placement and the doctor,” says James.
Conrad told the former FOP president that combating violent crime is the department’s top priority and going after repeat offenders is key, adding the most important weapon is the intelligence unit.
“The collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence—information about what is occurring on the street direct to make sure we can better direct our officers, whether they are working in an undercover capacity or uniform capacity to address those problems before they come up,” he says.