Mayor Greg Fischer gathered with other metro officials Tuesday to outline how this upcoming year’s budget will affect policing in the city. The budget for public safety services will quadruple in the 2022 fiscal year to nearly $20 million.
One area of focus is addressing gun violence in the city; there have already been more than 100 murders in 2021.
“So these models include strategies like outreach, intensive case management, peer support, mentorship, jobs, training, skills building, behavioral therapy and counseling, conflict mediation, as well as relocation for those who are not in safe conditions, and then coordinated crisis response,” said Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods director Monique Williams.
Some of the money is dedicated to police reform. This includes implementing recommendations from Hillard Heintze’s review of the Louisville Metro Police Department, like increased training efforts for officers and deeper community engagement.
Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields spoke about police recruitment and retention during the conference. The budget included a $15 million line item to increase officer and public safety salaries. Activists who called for the defunding of LMPD following last year’s protests objected to the expenditure.
The increased budget will allow for emergency services to help with the city’s deflection and diversion program. The aim of the program is to find ways that keep LMPD from responding directly to 911 calls. The new triage system will have nurses stationed at a 911 communication center, who will then assess if an ambulance or police are needed.
“When a 911 medical call is made, the call taker will ask a set of questions to specifically see where their call needs to be routed from a pre-determined protocol that will determine whether the person quickly needs an ambulance or can be sent to the nurse’s station for further questioning,” said Jody Meiman, the city’s director of emergency services.
The goal is to provide help from services other than LMPD.
“Public safety is more than we can realistically expect the police or any single entity to address,” said Fischer.
Officials are hopeful about the new initiatives.
“With progress, you will see momentum start to be generated. And the more momentum that is generated, the greater the capacity of Louisville, Jefferson County, and our nation as a whole to become what we are, and that is a proud nation,” said Shields.
The budget will go into effect at the beginning of the new fiscal year, next month.