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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Burks Named Interim Police Chief

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer named Ishmon F. Burks as the interim Metro Police chief today.

The 66-year-old retired army colonel is a Louisville native and currently works as an assistant professor and academic coordinator of criminal justice at Jefferson Community and Technical College.

Burk is also a former Secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and was the first African-American commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, being appointed by former Governor Paul Patton in 2000.

Chief Administrative Officer William Summers IV says the administration wanted a qualified candidate with law enforcement experience to serve as interim chief, but emphasized it needed an individual outside the department who has not interested in the position permanently.

“We felt like it would make the search a lot easier and it would keep the potential conflict down and I think in the end it will be the best for the community. The first thing we needed to do is make sure the interim would be somebody who didn’t want the job full-time so that we would not get into the politics of ‘now here’s there and you need to keep him’ and all that,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Members to Host Police Chief Forum

The African-American members of the Louisville Metro Council are holding a forum for constituents to voice their concerns and priorities as the city begins its search for a new police chief.

Last month, Chief Robert White announced he was leaving to become chief of the Denver Police Department. White was the first black chief in Louisville and is credited with improving relations between police and minorities.

Councilman David James, D-6, is a former FOP president and vice-chair of the Public Safety Committee. He says city lawmakers are reaching out to residents to provide Mayor Greg Fischer with input on what to look for when selecting a new chief.

“It’s extremely important that all areas of the community are engaged with the next police chief, but in particular the African-American community. In west Louisville, we’ve had a large number of violent acts that have taken place and it’s going to require an individual who can connect with the community and engage them in a way that will help reduce crime,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Meets With Chief Over Constable Shooting

The Louisville Metro Council is discussing ways to restrict the power currently held by local constables after a controversial shooting raised questions about the positions usefulness.

Three council members met with Chief Robert White Thursday to talk about the recent use of force by Jefferson County Constable David Whitlock, who was first elected to the position in 2007.

Last week, Whitlock shot a woman accused of shoplifting at a Walmart in the arm and face. Whitclock claims Tammie Ortiz ran over his foot with her car, but her attorney denies she stole anything and says Whitlock never identified himself as an officer.

The controversy has renewed a debate about the 150-year-old elected post, which is a state constitutional office that gives three constables in Jefferson County certain law enforcement powers, including writing parking tickets, executing warrants and making traffic stops.

However, critics point out that constables are not required to undergo any police training in order to hold the position.

Councilman David James, D-6, is a former Louisville police officer who currently serves as a lieutenant with University of Louisville police. He met with Chief White and says having an elected official without proper training acting as a law enforcement agent poses a danger to the community.

“In Jefferson County, I feel it is a problem. We have a person that has a badge and a gun and absolutely no training. And I consider that a public safety issue,” he says.

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Local News Politics

Chief White Addresses Departure, Legacy

Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White insists there are several qualified candidates within the department who could replace him, but Mayor Greg Fischer will make the ultimate decision.

Last Friday, the mayor’s office announced White was stepping down as the first chief in Metro Government history to become the chief of police in Denver. White will be leaving in early December, but the chief says he has had conversations with Fischer about a possible replacement and stressed to the media that officers within the department could fill the position.

White says Denver officials approached him about the post and that it was time to move on.

“While I think there is much that has been done there still is much to do. But nine years is an awful long time. The timing was right and it was an opportunity that I did not purse, but I was confronted with and decided to take advantage of it,” he says.

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Local News

Police Chief White Leaving For Denver

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says he’s begun the process of finding candidates to be the next chief of police.

Current Chief Robert White has announced he’s leaving Louisville to become chief of the Denver Police Department.

Fischer says he doesn’t want White to leave, but respects his decision.

“The chief is a guy that likes challenges. He felt like he’d done everything he could do here. Still felt he had some gas in his tank and wanted to take on another challenge. He feels that challenge is in Denver,” Fischer said today.

White came to Louisville in 2003 from North Carolina, and was the first chief of the merged city and county departments.

Over the past few years, White has been a finalist for chief of police openings in Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

Fischer says White will remain in Louisville at least through November and possibly longer.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Police Chief Worries About New Law Aimed at Reducing Arrests

A new state law aimed at reducing misdemeanor arrests and easing jail populations will take effect Wednesday, but Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White is concerned the change undermines police officers who are trying to keep the city safe.

Under the law, officers must issue a citation rather than make an arrest for dozens of misdemeanors, including some felony drug charges such as possessing small amounts of marijuana.

The officer has the discretion to make the arrest if they believe a suspect is a danger to themselves or others and will not appear in court.

Chief White says officers will adapt to the changes, but warns the new law could tie the department’s hand in certain situations.

“I think police officers should have as many tools as possible in their toolbox to help them do their job to ensure that our community stays safe. There are certain scenarios where officers in the past could make the arrest and now they can’t make the arrest barring mitigating circumstances,” he says.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Agreement Ends Take-Home Car Dispute

Louisville Metro Government and the Fraternal Order of Police have reached an agreement that will end their legal dispute over the charging of fees for police take-home vehicles.

The fees were imposed by previous Mayor Jerry Abramson to help offset a revenue shortfall, but were challenged in court by the police union, which contended they were a violation of its contract with Metro Government.

The courts and state Labor Department have sided with the FOP. The agreement means the city will drop its appeal. Current Mayor Greg Fischer says the legal battle had become expensive and contentious.

“The broader issue is how do we build a high performance city, the best police force in the country. And we can’t do that if we’re not talking with each other and we’re fighting with each other,” he said.

The deal calls for Metro Government to reimburse fees that were collected during the dispute. Officers who use take home vehicles for off-duty jobs will have to pay a monthly gasoline fee, probably around $50 per month, depending on the price of gas.

Fraternal Order of Police President David Mutchler says members overwhelmingly approved the deal Tuesday night.

“I don’t think Mayor Fischer would disagree that the most important job of the mayor is tot kept he citizens safe, and as the lead enabler in doing that, all we ask is to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

(In Photo: FOP President David Mutchler and Mayor Greg Fischer sign agreement and Police Chief Robert White looks on)

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Local News Next Louisville

White Awaiting Word On Atlanta Job

Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White is still awaiting word on whether he’ll be hired as the next chief of the Atlanta Police Department.

White is one of three finalists for the job. All of them took part in a town meeting in Atlanta two weeks ago as part of the application process.

“I had hoped to hear something this week. Hasn’t happened as of yet. I just have to continue to be patient and see what happens,” White said after addressing the Rotary Club of Louisville Thursday.

The two other candidates are Atlanta Interim Police Chief George Turner and U.S. Homeland Security official Cedric Alexander.

White says he doesn’t want to leave Louisville, but his future here is uncertain because a new mayor will be elected in November. He was hired in 2003 by current Mayor Jerry Abramson, who’s not seeking re-election.

White says he has spoken recently with the two major party mayoral candidates, Democrat Greg Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner.

“My conversation with Greg Fischer was specific about what happens if he becomes the mayor as it relates to me being police chief and he’s expressed a great interest in having me stay, and I would certainly be interested in that,” White said. “My conversation with Councilman Heiner was about crime in general, but we didn’t touch on who he wants as a chief or my future.”

White says if he doesn’t get the Atlanta job, he won’t entertain any other opportunities until after the November general election.

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Local News

White Not Chosen For Dallas Chief's Job

Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White was notified Wednesday that he was not chosen to be the next chief of the Dallas Police Department.

The Dallas city manager announced that she’s hired Assistant Chief David Brown to fill the post.

White was among six finalists for the job. He’s been pursuing job openings around the country since Mayor Jerry Abramson announced he would not seek a final term this year. Abramson hired White to oversee the merger of the old city and county departments in 2003.

White says he likes his job in Louisville, but his future here is uncertain, as he could be replaced in a new administration.

(Photo of Chief Robert White courtesy of Louisville Metro Government)

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Local News Next Louisville

White Among Finalists For Dallas Police Chief

By Rick Howlett

Louisville Metro Police Chief Robert White is one of six finalists for the chief’s job at the Dallas Police Department.

White is one of three people from outside the Dallas department under consideration along with police chiefs from San Jose, California and Austin, Texas.

The three other finalists are assistants to Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, who’s retiring next month.

White was hired by Mayor Jerry Abramson to lead the merged city/county police department in 2003. Abramson is not seeking re-election, so White’s future in Louisville is uncertain after this year.

White said in a statement that he’s pleased to be a finalist for the job, but he’s fully committed to his current position, and there’s still much work to be done in Louisville.

Abramson also released a statement, calling White one of America’s best police chiefs, adding that he hopes White stays in Louisville until he’s “too old to carry a gun.”