Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said he has no concrete explanation for a recent upswing in homicides in the city—and the spike has led to an increase in overtime payments to officers.
Conrad debriefed the Metro Council public safety committee during a special meeting on Monday.
So far, 21 people have been killed in Louisville this year, which Conrad said is cause for concern.
“The number of homicides we have seen so far this year is unusually high,” Conrad told the committee members. “This year we are three times above what would normally be expected from this time of the year.”
Ten of those homicides are unsolved, which Conrad said makes it hard to pin down exactly what is driving this sudden increase.
“At this point, the common factor that we are seeing—as I have shared—has been someone dealing with some sort of narcotics in a number of these cases, and really that’s the only common factor that I can share with you,” he said.
Conrad said in some cases marijuana or heroin has been involved in a recent death.
He also pointed out that this sudden increase in shooting and blunt-force deaths comes with a price tag for the city. He said overtime payments in his department have also increased.
“Right now our major crimes division, which includes our homicide detectives and also our crime scene forensics unit, they are making an incredible amount of overtime right now just because of the work that is here,” Conrad said. “This is truly just an unprecedented work level in a very short amount of time.”
According to data from the Management and Budget Department, in this calendar year several police officers and sergeants have brought in as much as $6,000 or $7,000 in overtime already.
Conrad said new police recruits should help take some of the workload once they graduate from the academy.
In the meantime, police and community leaders are trying to focus efforts on the Russell and Shawnee neighborhoods, which have experienced the bulk of the violent crimes this year.
Anthony Smith, the city’s director of safe and healthy neighborhoods, told the council he was working to put community programs in place there aimed at intervening before any suicides, homicides or overdose deaths occur.
Conrad said his office is also working with the FBI and DEA, as well as other federal agencies, to come up with a plan moving forward. He said he will also need the community’s help to solve the remaining homicides in Louisville.