Steve Conrad, chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, took the stand Wednesday to defend his demotion of a former major in a whistleblower trial. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and his top deputy also testified and defended Conrad.
Lt. Jimmy Harper filed a lawsuit asserting that he was demoted for speaking out against wrongdoing at the department.
Harper said he was demoted for supporting two fellow officers who cleared a woman of a wrongful murder conviction, for speaking out against the disbandment of a “flex” platoon that was helping Harper fight crime in the division he oversaw and for disagreeing with the police chief on other things.
Conrad viewed it differently.
“I told him that I had a problem with him taking that issue to the mayor, that if he had an issue, he needed to bring it to me,” Conrad testified.
Conrad said Harper’s disagreement with the decision to disband the flex platoons and voicing his concerns was one of the material factors in the chief’s decision to demote him.
Fischer said Harper complained to him about decisions Conrad was making.
“Well, I was concerned about it in the extent of, when an organization makes a decision, whether it’s a business organization or a police department, when an order is executed, then people are expected to carry that out,” Fischer said.
Fischer said he supported Conrad’s decision to demote Harper, as did Fischer’s chief deputy, Ellen Hessen.
“I think it was a cumulative effect of frustrations from not having a support of this particular major,” Hessen said.
Conrad said he had nine reasons for demoting Harper. Testimony continues Thursday.