Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed Louisville’s new Director of Safe Neighborhoods, a position that was recommended by the city’s violence prevention task force last year.
Anthony Smith is the director of network organizing for the Network Center for Community Change (NC3) and serves on Louisville’s Board of Heath and has worked with the 15,000 Degrees education initiative, which is part of the city’s 55,000 Degrees program.
Smith will soon be responsible, in part, for overseeing implementation of other recommendations proposed by the task force.
The group included nearly 80 proposals in its final report, which was requested following a series of shootings in Louisville’s West End last March.
According to a news release, Smith “began his career in 1997 as a caseworker in the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, preparing paternity cases for court. He later worked for the Louisville Urban League and for Jefferson County Public Schools as a career planner in adult education.”
Smith will start with the city on March 4 and will leave his NC3 post on March 1.
UPDATE 1:12 pm: Councilwoman Attica Scott says while she supports Smith and believes he’s very capable of performing his position, “I’m unclear myself as to exactly what Mr. Smith will be tasked to do,”
Scott says she remains surprised that the number one recommendation from the task force was to hire a new administrative position and she’s unsure how Metro Government plans to fund the position in the future.
“We have a very capable director of community building, we have an excellent chief of police who understands the community but also understands bureaucracy and the administration and we have a director of public safety who I ‘m still not very clear on what the director of public safety does,” she says.
Councilman Kelly Downard is familiar with Smith’s work with NC3 but remains skeptical of how the position will be used to improve safety and reduce violence.
“I still don’t know how this job will be measured. How will it be successful?” he says.
UPDATE 2:00 pm: Smith says he went though several interviews over six weeks, including interviews with Mayor Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad.
Smith says his job as Safe Neighborhoods Director will include bringing people together like education, business, community and Metro Council officials, much like the task force did.
“I think my role is to work across all of those lines,” he says.
Smith says his first duty will be to create an action plan that will have measurable objectives. Further he plans to meet with the chairs of the violence task force’s subgroups that include education, community building, employment and economic development, health and social wellness, and juvenile and criminal justice.
Of concern raised about the position itself by some council members, Smith says, “If you look at all of the work that everybody already has I don’t know if you can just say let’s hand this over to anybody else.”
Smith will be paid an annual salary of $76,000.