Louisville native returning home to lead department where he began career
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Feb. 21, 2012) – Saying he has all the qualities to lead Louisville to become the safest city in America, Mayor Greg Fischer this week named Steve Conrad as the new Chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department.
A Louisville native, Conrad currently is Chief of Police in Glendale, Arizona, where he has earned accolades as a strong, steady and compassionate leader.
“Steve has deep knowledge of Louisville — its neighborhoods, its people, its history — but he also has an outsider’s perspective, having left his hometown to serve as chief in Glendale,” Fischer said. “He has a passion for law enforcement, for Louisville and for LMPD, which was evident from the time I spent with him in Arizona over the weekend and from the many Arizona citizens that I interviewed about him.”
Conrad said he was honored and humbled to be chosen to be the second chief of LMPD.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to lead the Louisville Metro Police Department,” he said. “It is an incredible organization filled with men and women who are willing to do what it takes to make our community safer. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to work with them again.”
Conrad has 32 years of law enforcement experience and began his career in 1980 with the Louisville Division of Police as a patrol officer in the Portland, Russell, Shawnee and California neighborhoods. He rose through the ranks from detective to sergeant to lieutenant to captain and eventually to assistant chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department from 2003 to 2005. He helped develop the first budget for the newly merged department, and he oversaw the day-to-day administration.
He was named chief in Glendale, a department with 600 employees and a $70 million annual budget, in 2005.
In Glendale, Conrad reorganized the police department to respond to community needs, including adding a Gang-Fugitive Squad, a Downtown Safety Team and three Neighborhood Response Squads. With the opening in 2006 of the University of Phoenix Stadium, he led a law-enforcement coalition to staff major stadium events, including the Fiesta Bowl, the BCS National Championships and the 2008 Super Bowl.
He also established citizen advisory committees and implemented the Citizens Police Academy as part of his commitment to community policing. In response to increasing crime, Conrad created Strategies for a Safer City which, among other things, identified and arrested repeat offenders and increased traffic safety.
Fischer spent two days in Glendale last week, meeting with city officials, police officers and citizens. Fischer said everyone he met had high praise for Conrad.
“I was looking for someone with wide knowledge of our city and LMPD who could build strong ties within the police force and throughout the community. Steve’s experience and credentials are deep,” Fischer said. “His performance through the various stages of our interview process was outstanding and my in-person interviews in Arizona convinced me that he is the best person for this opportunity.”
From community leaders and activists to the head of the Glendale Police union, a consistent portrait of Conrad emerged, Fischer said.
“He is an accessible, strong and humble leader who puts the safety needs of the community above all else. His authentic, no drama nature and good communications skills won the trust and respect of a diverse group of citizens while he and his team improved safety,” Fischer said. “I was struck several times by his comment that the success of the police department is about much more than the chief. He is a team builder and strong communicator who highly involved his troops and the community in building a safer city.”
Conrad earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville and attended the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. in 1994. His first day as Louisville chief is March 19, and his salary is $165,000.
Chief Conrad will spend Tuesday meeting with LMPD officers and leaders across the city and on Wednesday he will meet with various community groups before returning to Arizona.
Conrad was among 16 people who applied for the chief’s position that included a rigorous review to narrow the list to five finalists. The process, overseen by the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville, included:
- Citizen input. Meetings were held by each council member in their district and the police institute used data from those gatherings to develop common community concerns. In addition, a 15-to-20 person panel of criminal justice officials and stakeholders — including the Fraternal Order of Police — was asked for its input.
- Profile position paper. Each applicant was required to submit an extensive paper in which he or she answered questions about leadership, strategic planning, crime control, community policing and involvement, among other things.
- Assessment team. A four-member team screened all applicants and recommended five to the mayor. That team consisted of Deborah Keeling, chair of the Department of Justice Administration at the University of Louisville; Southern Police Institute Assistant Director Cynthia Shain; Mark Bidner, a local CEO identified by the Police Foundation;, the police chief in Arlington, Texas, Therone Bowman; and an assistant chief from Tampa, Florida, Mark Hamlin.
- Mayor’s interview. The mayor – along with Chief Administrative Officer Bill Summers and Chief of Staff Ellen Hesen – interviewed the five finalists.
- In person field interviews in Glendale, Arizona. Conducted by the mayor and Jim Cain, sworn LMPD officer and a member of Mayor Fischer’s security detail.