Speaking before the Louisville Forum on Wednesday, Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad challenged residents and city institutions to do more to detour violent crime while addressing a probe into Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's office.
The city has seen several high-profile acts of violence recently, such as a shooting spree this May in the Parkland neighborhood that killed three and injured others. Since then, there have been other brazen incidents, such as the murder of a 15-year-old high Shawnee High school student and an assault rifle homicide in Old Louisville.
Conrad says the police force can’t arrest its ways out of this problem and that there are many things social services and the community can do to reduce incidents like the shooting spree in west Louisville.
“There were many, many points between the day of that shooting (in Parkland) and when those people were born where families could have gotten involved, churches could have gotten involved and social services could have gotten involved,” he says. “So we need to look for other institutions to help make a stronger and more sustainable community.”
According to police statistics, crime is up 8 percent since last year and officers have seen a rise in seized narcotics. Several initiatives have been launched to address the violence, including a task force formed by Mayor Greg Fischer to study systemic issues.
The chief also discussed the Public Integrity Unit’s decision to get involved in a review of a jobs program involving Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, who has come under scrutiny in recent months.
The program received city funds and was initially meant to train ex-offenders, but Shanklin and her relatives participated when it was opened up to the entire community. Police investigators are working with the city auditor to review if any laws were violated.
Conrad wouldn't comment on the investigation, but told the crowd there is a growing need to have unit that investigates public officials and hold them accountable since merger.
“I can remember talking to my colleague who was making the suggestion at the time and saying, “My goodness, this isn't some other big city. We don't need that here.' And unfortunately we have seen the need over and over again,” he says. “People mess up and people need to be held accountable, and we need to be able to guarantee the citizens of this community that when people make those sort of mistakes, whether at the police department, fire department or Metro Council, that they’re going to be held accountable criminally for their behavior if they break the law.”
A non-profit group, Common Cause of Kentucky has filed an ethics complaint against Shanklin, citing news reports.