Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Violence Prevention Workgroup is having its first meeting Monday.
The 37-member task force includes business, civic and religious leaders and was formed in response to a brazen shooting in the Parkland neighborhood last month. Among the group’s first goals will be to develop an inventory of youth services and long-term strategies to address escalating crime.
But the group has been criticized for being too large and its lack of women and young adults appointed by the mayor. Others have said the task force isn't moving quickly enough as more heinous shootings have occurred since the initial violence spurred its creation.
University of Louisville Arts & Sciences Dean J. Blaine Hudson is chairing the task force. He says concerns about the group are valid, but those criticisms should not distract from efforts to deter systemic violence.
“You’ll have people who legitimately feel the need to speak out. What they might be able to contribute to the larger process is a whole other question. Some people have a lot to say about immediate issues, less to say about long-term issues,” he says.
The analysis in that report covered a myriad of issues such as education, sexual behavior, juvenile justice and community support. It also yielded about 25 recommendations, however, few were adopted by city government.
Hudson says this is the first time local government has taken such as serious interest in addressing violence in west Louisville outside of police initiatives, adding Fischer should be credited with changing the conversation.
“The difference now, frankly is that you have a different mayor,” he says. “And with that is a new sense of putting city government in the process. Most of the other groups I’ve worked with over the past 30 years have always operated on the outside of city or county government. This is one that’s actually being appointed by the mayor’s office.”
The group will first take count of all the youth services programs and charities, then it is charged with creating a crisis response team to help victims of violence.
Fischer has asked the group to complete its initial work by October.