LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville's police chief said Wednesday he plans to put downtown officers on overtime to combat the kind of mob violence that broke out over the weekend.
Chief Steve Conrad said the police department doesn't need extra officers, drawing criticism from Metro Council members who said the agency was significantly understaffed.
The department will ask Metro Council for more money to cover overtime costs above the budgeted $3.6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, Conrad said.
"As opposed to pulling (officers) from other places to be downtown, we're using overtime for that," he said. "That has been the short-term approach to this problem."
Conrad said Metro Police are working with Jefferson County Public Schools administrators to identify the teenagers who terrorized downtown businesses and passers-by late Saturday night.
As many as 200 teenagers jumped on cars, attacked bystanders and tried to rush their way into a downtown business. The gathering started as an impromptu vigil for Me'Quale Offutt, the 14-year-old stabbed to death aboard a TARC bus on March 16.
On Wednesday, a grand jury declined to indict Anthony Allen, 44, the man charged with Offutt's murder.
Councilman Kevin Kramer, a Republican, repeatedly asked Conrad at a Metro committee meeting whether he had plans to hire new staff, and expressed disappointment with the chief's answer.
"Please know that when you come back to this council, you have folks already willing to support you in that request," Kramer said. "For years, this council has been insisting of the police department that we increase staffing."
Paula Bader, the owner of Bader's Food Mart on the corner of First and Jefferson Streets, told Conrad and council members that her business is a regular victim of mob violence in the summer.
When the weather's nice, crowds can form two or three times a week and have stolen merchandise, trashed the store and injured employees, Bader said.
"You have city officials saying it's an isolated incident and it doesn't occur, but it occurs on a regular basis," Bader said.
The crowds can scare away customers, she added.
Conrad disputed the frequency of the violence but apologized to Bader for Saturday's incidents. A store security video shows a crowd breaking its way through the doors and past a clerk.
Councilwoman Madonna Flood, a Democrat, said more people than just police are responsible for bringing the mob to justice.
"Parents need to be parents, and the parents know who those pictures are on that video," Flood said. "Whoever the parents are, you need to step up to the plate and take those kids down to (police) headquarters."
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