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King to call for LMPD changes, gang unit

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on December 14, 2009 at 9:05 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 9:05 AM

Poll:
Should LMPD reinstate the gang unit?

Metro Councilman and mayoral candidate Jim King appears ready to challenge Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White's strategies in a news conference scheduled for Monday morning.

A campaign news release says King "offers specific plans to restore the gang unit, revitalize the street crimes unit, and identify more funding for the Metro Narcotics Unit."  The release also says King, as the current Budget Chair of Metro Council, "will oppose any cuts in the Metro Police Department.”

In his first year as LMPD Chief in 2003, White began the transformation of the department toward community oriented policing with less emphasis on specialty units such as a gang task force or street crimes unit.  In fact, the gang unit was disbanded, leading critics to allege that it was as much a public relations move as anything, so Louisville would not appear to have a gang problem.

The Fraternal Order of Police has repeatedly challenged White and Mayor Jerry Abramson to fill all the vacancies on the police staff, suggesting that city departments, including police, leave many positions open to cut costs.  As a result, the FOP says LMPD is not fully staffed.  With the city facing another budget shortfall, King's proclamation that he "will oppose any cuts in the Metro Police Department,” begs the question, is LMPD about to enact more budget cuts?

Meanwhile, King's police news conference comes on the heels of  an e-mail sent to supporters in which King says after what he perceives as unfair attacks in the media, "we have accelerated our campaign plan to take control of the discussion."

King's news release shows he has been able to bring together two traditionally disparate parties, police and civil rights activist Mattie Jones, who has protested LMPD numerous times. 

Here's the news release from the King campaign:

Councilman Jim King will announce a major policy initiative aimed at
curbing gang violence and street crime in Louisville on Monday, December
14th, 2009.  This media event will take place at 11:00 AM on public
property outside of the Louisville Metro Police Department 2nd Division
Headquarters, located at 3419 Bohne Avenue.

After reaching out to Police officers, listening to the numerous concerned
citizens, and garnering a comprehensive appreciation for the epidemic of
crime facing our community, King said, “I am proud to be the first
Mayoral candidate that will identify the problem and name specific
solutions.”

“Spending a Friday night on the beat with one of Louisville’s finest,
Officer Steve Kelsey, gave me a first-hand appreciation for the
hard-working men and women of our first responders and the dedication with
which they fight to reduce crime”, King stated. King proclaimed, “This
city-wide problem requires city-wide effort, and this will be my chief
priority as Louisville’s next Mayor.

“There is no greater responsibility for the next Mayor then to keep its
citizens safe.”  As the next Mayor of Louisville, we’re going to take
the streets back, north to south and west to east.  What affects one area
of this community affects all areas of this community.”

Councilman King offers specific plans to restore the gang unit, revitalize
the street crimes unit, and identify more funding for the Metro Narcotics
Unit.  King made it clear that as the current Budget Chair of Metro Council
and the next Mayor “I will oppose any cuts in the Metro Police
Department.”

Community activists have praised Councilman King’s understanding of this
issue and are confident that this is the first step of a long journey to
making Louisville Metro a safe and secure place.

Joining Councilman King will be members of law enforcement including former
FOP President David James, community activist Mattie Jones, Councilman
George Unseld, and other concerned elected officials and community members.

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