Community

Louisville’s homicide tally is continuing to climb.

As of this weekend, Louisville Metro Police reported 66 murders so far this year. That’s the highest year-to-date total since at least 2006, according to police data.

More than half of murder victims in 2016 were between 18 and 35 years old, according to police data. And more than a third of the victims were in their twenties, the data show.

Seven of the victims were in their teens.

Last week alone was riddled with murders. Police reported five killings as of Friday, and Police Chief Steve Conrad called the week “incredibly violent,” according to a report from The Courier-Journal.

The city’s surging murder count has concerned city and police officials all year. This year’s increase comes in the wake of a unusually high murder total (80) in 2015, police data show.

The record for homicides in a single year came in 1971, when police recorded 110 murders.

Conrad told the Metro Council earlier this year the trend is due, in part, to a lack of overall community support.

“I’m talking about our families, and I’m talking our schools, and I’m talking about our churches,” he said.

Conrad also said then that police have played a role in the violence epidemic.

“Along the way, we’ve had opportunities to help people, we’ve had opportunities to send people on a different route, and they’ve ended up in a bad place,” he said. “All of us, together, has got us into this situation, and all of us, together, need to work to get us out.”

The high homicide tally also prompted Mayor Greg Fischer to reverse his position on pushing state legislators to give local municipalities the right to enact local gun laws. In May, Fischer said pushing for such change was akin to “chasing windmills.”

Yet in June, at a rally with U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth, a staunch gun control advocate, Fischer said, “we should have the right locally to implement our own gun safety laws,” according to a report from The Courier-Journal.

Earlier this year, the Metro Council bolstered the police department’s surveillance budget by more than $210,000 to help fight violent crime. The funds will be used at Conrad’s discretion for either additional security cameras or a newer technology that uses an array of audio sensors to detect and alert police of gunshots.

Conrad is expected to make a spending decision later this year.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.