LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The task of reducing violence in Louisville will require an effort not just from government, but from police, schools, non-profits, businesses, the court system, and houses of worship. That's the conclusion of a report released Thursday by the Violence Prevention Work Group.
The report focuses on creating a culture in the city where every neighborhood is safe. And it examines what the city can do both short-term and long-term to help prevent violence.
Short-term, the report recommends expanding police efforts, especially in the Parkland and Russell neighborhoods. The mayor appointed the task force following a wave of violence in Louisville last spring, including a daylight double-shooting in Parkland.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad has already been reorganizing the department along those lines, and has also created the Violence Incident Prevention Enforcement and Response (VIPER) unit.
"Violence is not a police problem," says Chief Conrad. "Violence is a community problem."
Longer-term efforts, the report says, should include hiring a full-time Violence Prevention Coordinator and expanding and improving after-school and summer programs to help keep children and young adults off the streets.
"When you read this report," the mayor said, "there's something in this report that everybody in this community can do. This should not be a report that people read like it's a piece of tourism and they're just looking at it from the inside. People need to ask, 'How can I get involved?'"
Department of Public Health and Wellness Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt and Dr. J. Blaine Hudson of the University of Louisville co-chaired the work group. Community activists, ministers, law enforcement, educators, and social workers all contributed to the effort.
Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news release, "It's clear from the report that city government or police alone cannot reduce violence. It takes an entire city — all 750,000 citizens — working toward this common goal." The mayor says he and his leadership team will spend the rest of the year studying the report to see what the city can do next.
He encouraged community leaders to examine the document and make recommendations. "Turning this report into an action plan and implementing the recommendations will take time, but the work has already started," Fischer said. "We need community partners to tell us what role they can play."
The group had been meeting all summer and earlier on Thursday, before the release of the report, Mayor Fischer told WDRB News it would be a comprehensive report that would require some hard work. In short, he said, there is no magic formula: "No, if that was the case, we would have already done it. This is a holistic, systemic type of look from education to out-of-school time to neighborhood development. It's a lot of nitty-gritty, roll-up-your-sleeves, doing work in the community, one person at a time, one neighborhood at a time. It just requires that kind of focus. I mean, there's no instant pudding here, Otherwise it would have already been taken care of."
Five subcommittees made recommendations in the areas of community building, education, employment and economic development, health and social wellness, and juvenile and criminal justice. Highlights provided by the mayor's office include:
Community Building, chaired by Eleanor Jordan, resident of the Parkland neighborhood
Education, chaired by Dana Jackson-Thompson, executive director of the Network Center for Community Change, and Dr. Ricky Jones, UL professor
Employment/Economic Development, chaired by Samuel Watkins, president of the Louisville Central Community Center
Health/Social Wellness, chaired by Dr. Nesbitt
Juvenile/Criminal Justice, chaired by Circuit Judge Brian Edwards.
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