Mayor selects Ishmon Burks as Louisville’s interim police chief [Opinion: The Arena]

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Ishmon Burks sworn in as interim Louisville Police Chief

Mayor Greg Fischer has named Ishmon Burks, former Secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and a former commissioner of the Kentucky State Police, as interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department.  Burks starts Tuesday, December 6, 2011 and will serve until April, when Fischer expects to name a permanent replacement for outgoing Police Chief Robert White.

Ishmon Burks 2_1.jpg“Ish is widely respected in the criminal justice field and he will be an excellent interim chief,” Fischer said. “I thought it was important to name an interim from outside the department and to name someone who has no interest in the permanent chief’s position.” Fischer said that Burks’s role is to lead the department from a macro view, but the day-to-day operations will be run by the highly competent and highly professional command staff.

Ishmon F. Burks, Jr., was appointed as secretary of the Justice Cabinet on April 25, 2002. Most recently he was the Commissioner of the Department of State Police. As secretary of the Kentucky Justice Cabinet, one of the largest agencies in state government, Secretary Burks takes an active role in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the departments and divisions within the cabinet. This includes the departments of corrections, state police, juvenile justice, and criminal justice training. Also part of the Justice Cabinet are the parole board, medical examiner’s office, criminal justice council and justice administrative services.

Ishmon Burks 1_1.jpgA Kentucky native, Burks was born on March 17th, 1945, in Louisville. Following graduation from Shawnee High School in Louisville, Burks attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and graduated as the Distinguished Military Graduate in 1967. Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army that same year, he continued his military career to retire as a colonel in 1993. Milestones in that career include Senior Battalion Advisor in Vietnam, 1969-70; instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., 1975-1979; Chief of Police for Heidelburg, Germany, 1982-83; Executive Officer for Public Affairs, Pentagon, 1983-84; Commander of the Military Police Battalion at Fort McClellan, Ala., 1984-86; and Chief of Personnel for Military Police, Pentagon, 1988-90.

Burks continued his educational pursuits during his military career, earning a master’s degrees in education from Indiana University in 1975 and another master’s degree in criminology from City University, N.Y., in 1979. Additionally, he has attended the U.S. War College and graduated in 1992 from the Kenan-Flager Business School Executive Program.

Ishmon Burks 4_0.jpgFollowing his military career, Burks joined the civilian sector as the Vice President of Internal Auditing and Corporate Security for the McCrory and TG&Y Stores in 1994. He then returned to Kentucky to accept the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Spalding University in Louisville in 1995.

In 2000, Governor Paul Patton appointed Burks as the 21st Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police. He was the first African-American commissioner of the state’s premiere law enforcement agency.

police-car-animated-sm_1.gifBurks is currently an assistant professor and academic coordinator of criminal justice at Jefferson Community and Technical College, and has been active in the Louisville community, having been a board director for the Louisville Ballet and board member of the African American Heritage Foundation, among other things. Most recently, he was a member of the Merger 2.0 Task Force appointed earlier this year by Mayor Fischer to examine the first decade of city-county consolidation.

Burkes is the son of the late Ishmon Burks, Sr., and Juanita Burks.  His mother Juanita was head of J. P. Burks Construction, Inc., a Louisville glass company she started in 1980, and was one of the leading African American women entrepreneurs in Kentucky.  She served on President Carter's board of energy and, in the 1970s, was nominated by Kentucky Governor Julian Carroll to go to Washington, D.C. to help develop a federal energy policy.

galleria_1.jpgMrs. Burks' glass company was formed in 1980; she won a contract to install glass in the downtown Louisville Galleria, where her company put the floors down and installed $4.5 million worth of glass. Burks had worked as a maid and elevator operator in that same building when she first came to Louisville in 1942, earning $17 per week.

Ishmon Burks, Jr., is married to Terri Metzger, a retired school teacher, and has two grown daughters, Angela and Wallis. Burks will earn the equivalent of $120,000 a year.

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).

 

About Thomas McAdam
At various times I have been a student, a soldier, a college Political Science teacher, a political campaign treasurer, and legal adviser to Louisville's Police Department and Board of Aldermen. I now practice law and share my political opinions with anyone who will listen.
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