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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad and other city leaders met Tuesday night with concerned Parkland neighborhood residents, a new city administrator sat among them.
Anthony Smith, the city's new Director of Safe Neighborhoods, sat in a chair and listened as residents complained about vacant abandoned houses, diminished job opportunities for young people and a strong distrust of police officers.
Parkland residents who attended the meeting say little has been done little to repair a fractured relationship between police and residents after the deadly shootings on May 17, 2012 that rocked the city. They argue that relationship needs to be repaired.
"It's got to be built. If it ain't built, everything is going to fall in the water. Without that bridge, these kids don't trust them. How can they trust them when they walk down the street and they stop them for no reason," said Darius Calloway, a Parkland resident.
Smith will earn $75,000 in his new role that starts March 4th. On top of a police chief and a public safety director, this hire has been criticized by Metro Council Republicans, who claim the job lacks a detailed description.
But Fischer defended the hire Tuesday afternoon.
"A lot of people have criticized me for creating this position. They say 'shouldn't the police be doing this?' "Anthony is from Louisville. He is connected in a lot of different ways. He's a really good facilitator."
Conrad also endorsed the hire, saying thousands of arrests haven't stopped deadly violence.
"I see us working very closely together as he works on the 26 recommendations to come out of task force to prevent violence," Conrad said of Smith, adding that he will be "truly making changes in our community that are beyond the capacity of the police department."
Smith declined to be interviewed Tuesday night because he has not started his official job. But he did speak with WDRB News earlier in the day.
"I really want to take a look at the task force and meet with the chairs from those departments and see how we move those recommendations on down the line," Smith said during an interview.
Conrad says Smith's hire will help the city's effort to end violence.
"One of the big components of this plan is economic development -- you've gotta have safe neighborhoods to attract companies to offer those jobs," said Conrad.