Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer on Thursday refused to endorse councilwoman Angela Leet’s call for the police chief’s resignation.
Leet, a Republican, told The Courier-Journal earlier in the day that she’d lost confidence in Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad’s “ability to right the ship.”
“I believe the time has come for a change in leadership,” she told the newspaper.
Conrad has faced a great deal of scrutiny in recent months. Reports of violence have increased and the police department is currently under investigation for reports of sexual abuse within a youth program.
Fischer released a statement Thursday evening, in which he said “laying all of crime and societal problems at the feet of one man is an unrealistic and simple solution to a complex problem.”
“It’s also an insult to the hard working men and women of LMPD that the Chief leads,” he added.
Conrad was hired to lead LMPD in March 2012 after serving as chief of police in Glendale, Arizona. Before that, he spent 25 years working through the ranks in Louisville’s police force, according to his bio on the city’s website.
He works at the discretion of Fischer and his employment hinges not on the Metro Council. Conrad is the city’s highest salaried employee.
The head of the local police union, Dave Mutchler, has also been critical of Conrad, of late.
In November of last year, Mutchler penned a letter to Fischer, in which he said confidence in department leadership was “at an all time low.”
Mutcher wrote that his members have been “disappointed over and over again” by Conrad for his lack of transparency regarding administrative decisions.
“We cannot continue down the current path,” he wrote, citing specific concerns with a lack of officers, and Conrad’s decision to dismantle the department’s flex platoons despite heavy criticism from city legislators.
The lawsuit and the police department’s pending criminal investigation into the allegations led Fischer to push the council to hire a private attorney to conduct a parallel inquiry at the cost of $50,000 to taxpayers.
Police data show criminal homicide reports are outpacing last year, which ended with the highest tally in history. Of the reported homicides this year, more than half remain unsolved.
And a vote by police union members late last year showed less than two percent had confidence in Conrad. Experts in policing said such votes are, largely, meaningless and Fischer called the vote “a distraction.”