Louisville announces millions in funding for officer wellness center, police HQ
Mayor Craig Greenberg announced funding Thursday to create a new LMPD Wellness Center and fast-track renovations to the police department’s downtown headquarters. He also announced the restarting of hiring and retention bonuses for public safety employees.
Mayor Craig Greenberg announced millions of dollars in new investment in the Louisville Metro Police Department Thursday morning, with much of the funding coming from federal pandemic relief.
At a press conference in Metro Hall, Greenberg said the city will pay $1.6 million to lease a new LMPD Wellness Center on Presidents Boulevard near Eastern Parkway. The Metro Police Foundation, a private nonprofit, is purchasing the building from the University of Louisville. The city’s lease payments will come from the nearly $400 million Louisville Metro Government received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Greenberg said the new facility will include gym equipment, locker rooms and full-time mental health counselors to improve officers’ physical and mental well-being. He said that’s key to good policing.
“We know our officers are human beings who put themselves in sometimes terrifying and traumatizing situations to help keep the rest of us safe,” he said. “We need to respect that and give them the support they need to deal with the impacts of their work.”
As part of the deal, the city’s yearly lease payments to the Police Foundation will be $419,000 through 2026. After that, Louisville Metro will pay just $1 per year.
The city will put another $14 million in pandemic relief toward fast-tracking renovations to the new downtown LMPD headquarters. Metro Council approved the purchase of the former AT&T building at 601 W. Chestnut St. in 2021, and roughly $20 million has already been poured into the project.
The additional funding announced Thursday will help speed up roof replacement, elevator renovation, HVAC upgrades and electrical needs, officials said.
“Getting the LMPD headquarters open sooner will benefit our entire community,” Greenberg said. “It’ll benefit our officers and the work of public safety as a whole.”
Another round of funding will likely be needed to complete the headquarters renovations, he said.
Standing alongside more than a dozen LMPD officers, Greenberg also announced plans to restart a program providing a hiring and retention incentive to public safety employees. It includes police, EMS and Metro Corrections officers.
The program will be funded through $4.8 million left over from previously approved bonuses. New police officers who sign on with LMPD will receive 50% of the bonus after completing academy training and the rest after their first full year on the job.
Interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel said the incentive will help the department attract and retain good employees at a time when LMPD has a staffing shortage of nearly 300 officers.
“Our officers are still doing the work,” Gwinn-Villaroel said. “They’re showing up every day. They’re passionate, they’re involved and they’re dedicated. We’re committed to not allowing the shortage to impact the quality of services we’re providing to our citizens.”
Metro Council will need to approve the changes to the hiring and retention incentive program. They’ll take a final vote on the ordinance at their meeting Thursday night.