2016 stands as Louisville’s deadliest year yet, setting a record for the number of murders in the city. Though murders decreased in 2017, a higher percentage of them happened in West Louisville.
Areas west of Ninth Street — which are among areas the city calls “urban neighborhoods” — accounted for 81 percent of the murders in 2016. In 2017, that figure rose to 83 percent.
Nearly half of the murders in that area occurred in five West Louisville neighborhoods, including Russell, a community overwhelmed by violence.
Michael Sullivan, Louisville Metro Police Department’s deputy police chief, said it’s hard to pinpoint why homicides in some neighborhoods rise while others decrease. Sullivan said many crimes stem from social issues and officers use predictive policing to decide which areas will be worked more.
“There’s certain places and there’s certain people that have the highest effect on violent crime, and we focus on those areas,” Sullivan said. He said police need help from residents in order to deal with rising violence.
“Only with that involvement will we solve those types of problems,” he said. “We need collaboration and partnerships with everybody in the community.”
District 5 Councilwoman Cheri Hamilton agrees that residents must do more to help address murder rates. She represents parts of the Portland, Shawnee and Russell neighborhoods. Hamilton said police working overtime is helpful but it’s not the only solution.
“I know the police are making strong efforts to put more effort into overtime, but I don’t think overtime will address the issue,” she said. “I think redistribution of officers to the most challenged districts would be a good start. I don’t think everyone should be staffed the same.”
Hamilton said murder doesn’t just happen in one part of the city.
“It may look like it’s just the West End or west of Ninth, but it’s all over this community and we all need to get involved,” Hamilton said.
Disctrict 7 Councilwoman Angela Leet said city leadership is to blame for rising crime. Leet, who’s running for mayor, called the growing number of West Louisville murders “a travesty.” She said a different approach is needed.
“We cannot continue to paint a rosy picture that crime is down,” said Leet. “We have to remain diligent in making people aware. We should be outraged that the crime is occurring west of Louisville and we can’t ignore it.”
There’s been 10 murders in Louisville so far this year. Most, Chief Steve Conrad said, were caused by domestic violence situations. Over the same period in 2016, there were only three murders to date.
This story has been updated.