LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Police have paid about $600,000 in additional overtime to have more officers patrolling downtown after the mob violence in late March.
It's a major factor to the department blowing past its overtime budget by about $1 million for the year that ends June 30, LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said. Metro government also added new surveillance cameras at Waterfront Park after the March 22 violence, at a $227,000 cost.
"If you look at it only as a cost, you can come away with some frustration," Conrad said. "But I think this has been an opportunity to look at how we're doing our work somewhat differently."
The mob violence, in which a group of teenagers terrorized downtown for hours, has led Mayor Greg Fischer to propose major increases in public safety spending in his budget and push a controversial fee through the council in recent weeks.
Fischer's recommendations include $4.8 million to hire new police officers, pay more overtime for downtown patrols in the next year, add civilians to watch surveillance cameras, hire a prosecutor for heroin cases, and increase a home incarceration program.
Metro Council last week allowed Fischer to impose a 2 percent franchise fee on Louisville Gas and Electric. It would raise $3 million to cover part of the public safety increase.
Fischer has said he wants to hire 96 officers over the next year, or 24 more than in a typical year, after police officers urged the administration to increase staffing.
Council members from southwest Jefferson County complained that 15 of the new officers would patrol downtown, while their districts have police vacancies. The nine other additional officers would be at-large, but would start in the West End based on need, Conrad has said.
"We will look at our calls for service and our crime, and we will try to put people in the right places at the right time," he said.
Conrad couldn't point to an instance where the Waterfront cameras had prevented a crime, but said they had been helpful in solving at least one crime near the Big Four Bridge during Kentucky Derby weekend.
Fischer's budget also includes $1 million for improvements at community centers and a new staff position in the Office of Safe Neighborhoods, which started after deadly violence on May 17, 2012.
Still, council members said they had concerns that Safe Neighborhoods, a one-person department, wasn't doing enough two years after the violent outbreak.
"What is the reason we have so many single parent homes?" Council President Jim King asked Anthony Smith, the Safe Neighborhoods director, during one exchange.
"That I can't answer," Smith replied. "No idea."
"It seems to me, if you've identified that as an issue, then you should be attacking that as well," said King, a Democrat.
Smith said the budget includes an additional staff person, who would help with research and writing grants.
The council has scheduled a vote on the budget for June 19.
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