Fri October 25, 2013
Louisville Leaders Outline How Far Anti-Violence Efforts Have Come, Where They're Headed
Louisville officials have outlined progress from its violence prevention work over the past year and have provided a number of long-term goals that include supporting ex-convicts and continuing to build partnerships around the city.
It was over a year ago that city, business and community leaders convened in Metro Hall following high-profile shootings in Louisville’s Parkland neighborhood. They were trying to answer the question of how to address the city’s violent crime.
“Nobody was pointing figures. Everybody was just saying how can I help?” Mayor Greg Fischer says.
It was a wakeup call for the community, he says.
On Friday, city officials presented the one-year progress report—called Louisville’s Blueprint for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods—of Louisville’s Violence Prevention Task Force, which was formed after the shootings and which recommended 42 actions to prevent violent crime last year.
The Blueprint has outlined five areas of concentration including community and family building, education, employment and economic development, health and social wellness, and juvenile and criminal justice. The plan will act as a guide when determining which programs or initiatives to implement.
Over the next few months the framework will guide specific actions and those who will be responsible. The initiatives developed will be done through community partnerships and guided, in part, by a 30-member Safe Neighborhoods Advisory Committee.
Some of the task force's original recommendations—like crisis response teams that help mitigate situations in communities following violent crime—have been carried out by Metro Government, but many of the initiatives are expected to be led by organizations and community leaders, says Anthony Smith, the city’s director of safe neighborhoods.
Smith—who started working with the city in March—says one long-term issue the city wants to tackle will be to increase opportunities for ex-convicts.
Louisville may look to Washington D.C., Smith says, which offers a one-stop shop for citizens returning home from incarceration and who need help with housing and employment.
“How do we create a comprehensive center here, would be something I would really be interested in seeing and figuring out how we can do that,” says Smith.
Kentucky may also consider legislation next year to restore voting rights for ex-offenders.
Overall crime is down this year, officials say. In 2012, homicides and aggravated assault were up.
Homicides are down 17 percent when compared to the same time last year and aggravated assault is down around 8 percent, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad told WFPL.
“My concern is, even though those sound like big percentages we’re not talking about many victims,” he says.
“What’s so exciting about his collaborative, coordinated approach is we start to address some of the root causes of violence in our community. Our hope is we can do a better job of raising a generation of young people that have more opportunity and are in the position to make better choices,” says Conrad.
Fischer says he doesn’t want the work of the violence task force performed over the last year to “sit on a shelf.”
“We intend for these plans to be breathing, working plans that guide our work to make every neighborhood in the city as a safe neighborhood, that these plans are monitored, they’re diagnosed, they evolve as they need to evolve as we learn more things,” Fischer says.
The Blueprint is the first phase of a multi-year plan and initiatives will be developed based on data, best practices and needs of the community, Smith says.