Mayoral candidate, Police Chief debate LMPD's leadership approach


by Gene Kang

Posted on December 14, 2009 at 5:54 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 7:15 PM

Should LMPD reinstate the gang unit?

He's only a candidate for mayor but now Metro Councilman Jim King is upsetting the police chief saying he's ready for a change when it comes to the police department.

King says he has a long record of fighting crime and wants to re-vamp the department if he's elected mayor.

Now, Metro Police Chief Robert White is firing back.

Community activists and even a former FOP president joined Metro Councilman Jim King as he announced his platform for mayor curbing gang violence and street crime.

King wants to go back to how things were before Chief Robert White took the top spot at LMPD.  That approach is causing a heated debate.

Mattie Jones, Community Activist, said, "When this gentleman, Jim King, a loving kind man a human being says enough is enough and we make a change in this community."

With a hug, Jones showed her support.

King announced he wants major changes in how the police department is run, saying, “I know we have flex platoons in the divisions but I'm looking for something more comprehensive in nature. I want to restore the gang squad. Gang violence is on the rise."

In addition to re-instating the gang squad, King wants to re-vitalize the street crimes unit while adding more money to the metro narcotics force and rehab programs.

Former FOP President David James now heads a law enforcement committee for Councilman King.

James said, "I support Councilman King because dealing with the issue of narcotics and gangs can tremendously effect our overall crime problem in Louisville."

To date King says University Hospital spent more than $12 million on gun-related emergencies.

Adding to that the 40211 zip code in the west end has the highest number of injuries because of it.

And King argues bringing back specialty units is the answer to Chief White's dismay.

He said, "I'm a little (sigh) I'm a little taken back of this whole approach."

Since Chief White took over in 2003, his focus moved to community-oriented policing while downsizing specialty units.

According to him, right now there are 8 street crime units that patrol hot spots with guns, gangs and drugs with more than 1600 arrests made since the county-city merger.

"We will have the largest decrease in crime since merger this year. It's going to be somewhere between nine and ten percent decrease," said White.

Finally, White says whoever is chosen as the next police chief must have a firm grasp on how to deal with violent crimes.

"Whoever he would like to become the Chief, I would suggest that person doesn't have a clue what it takes to the Louisville Metro Police Department."

Metro Councilman King is also the budget chair and says they're looking at federal money or partnerships to beef up specialty crime units if he's elected mayor.

King didn't say who he'd choose as police chief and Chief White only would confirm he's talked to several mayoral candidates about continuing to work here without a firm answer on whether or not he'll stay.