LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Encouraged by the mayor and the outgoing police chief to let the command staff run the day to day operations of the Louisville Metro Police Department, newly appointed Interim Chief Ishmon "Ish" Burks said Monday that he does not plan any changes to police operations during the three to four months that he is Louisville's top cop.
"My mission over the next two to three months is really to keep this train on the track," Burks said, "I'll be there to keep this direction and keep this focus on the great things that we are doing."
"Though Colonel Burks will be an interim chief, the day to day operations of the police department will be run by the command staff," Fischer said.
On Tuesday, Burks will begin job shadowing Robert White, who starts his new job as Denver's police chief at the end of the week.
"I reiterated something he already knew," White said of a Sunday meeting with Burks, "We have great leadership inside the police department. He clearly understands that and they will pretty much guide him where he needs to go for the next couple of months."
"I think he has a good sense of what we've done, what we haven't done, what we need to do," White continued, "He made it quite clear that he understood that he is the 'interim' and it will probably be for a short period of time."
Burks says he will be a full time interim chief and is taking a leave of absence from his job as an assistant professor at Jefferson Community and Technical College.
A graduate of Shawnee High School in Louisville, Burks has led troops in Vietnam, the military police at the Pentagon and Kentucky State Police. But he has never been a cop in his hometown -- until now.
"I think it's the capstone of my career," Burks told WHAS11, "I've been in public service for 44 years. I think it's neat that I can make this sort of contribution at this particular point in my life."
Burks also served as Kentucky's Justice Cabinet Secretary under Governor Paul Patton.
For eight months, Burks has been studying LMPD operations as part of a task force review of the city-county merger.
"We've got a department of over well a thousand people that are dedicated to reducing crime and protecting the neighborhoods," Burks said, "And I think that that's a good thing. And we need to do a better job of communicating that to the general public."
"It's just a matter of having a good public affairs strategy and let the citizens know what we are doing," Burks said.
Burks said Mayor Greg Fischer had initially asked if he would be interested in the chief's job, but Burks instead expressed interest in the interim chief's job and to help with the search for the new police chief.
"We wanted somebody of high integrity," Fischer said, "a person with a deep understanding of policing and criminal justice. We wanted somebody who knew Louisville. our people and our neighborhoods."
"We are confident that Chief Burks and the FOP will have no problem maintaining a professional and amicable relationship during his tenure," said Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614 President Dave Mutchler in a statement to WHAS11.
"We are pleased that Mayor Fischer has been available to the membership and has continually included the FOP regarding the process of selecting a new Chief of Police for Metro Louisville. Our members will continue to serve the citizens of Louisville with excellence as we look forward to the future of our department," Mutcher added.
Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, the Republican Caucus Chairman applauded the appointment.
"He's a good person," Downard said, "If somebody would have given me that choice, I would have said yes. I think the mayor again has made another good choice."
Burks disclosed that the mayor initially asked if Burks was interested in appying for the permanent job.
"They had asked me if I wanted to be considered and I thought maybe it's time for another generation of police officers to take charge," Burks said.
Who will take charge in April is still the big question. The mayor has said he would prefer someone already inside the department.
Burks says "it's time" for the next chief to be chosen from within the department.
"I think that person is here right now," Burks said.
White, meanwhile, acknowledged that he has shared the names of "a handful" of potential successors from within LMPD with the mayor.
White would not disclose those names but said both men and women are on the list.