Neighborhoods safety czar says city is making progress, despite - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Neighborhoods safety czar says city is making progress, despite challenges

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This week marks two years since Louisville leaders made a plan to fix the city's crime problems. 

The violence prevention work group offered 42 recommendations, including hiring a safety czar. The Mayor appointed Anthony Smith Louisville's Safe Neighborhood Director 18 months ago.

It came after a dark day in May of 2012 when panic flooded West Louisville after three young people killed each other in broad daylight. 

"We're working in the Parkland, California, Russell, Newburg and Shawnee neighborhoods," Smith said. It's where he spends most of his time.

"When you think about the work we're doing here, it's prevention work, enforcement and re-entry, so you try to work on all four levels at all times," he said.

Smith takes credit for dozens of new mentoring programs and partnering with local churches and schools to bring resources to families who need it most. The Right Turn program at Kentuckiana Works is what he calls the greatest success so far, with $2 million from the federal government for teens caught in the juvenile justice system.

"They'll have a job coach, they'll have a job and everyone is checking in on them and trying to make sure they stay on track," said Elaine Simmons, a Kentuckiana Works case manager.

But for every right turn, there is a wrong one.

"Yes," Smith sighed. "March 22, 2014."

That's the day Louisville was shocked by a mob of youth violence at the Waterfront. the city has also been plagued by more than a dozen domestic violence murders since Smith began working to cut crime. Smith said, "We don't want anybody else to get shot, or anyone else to get murdered, so we're trying to put strategies in place real quick to do that, but also understand that this is a new body of work...we understood when we came in to do this work that it wasn't going to stop all crimes from happening ASAP."

Smith earns $80,000 a year, taxpayer funded. He said there will be a return on the investment, as he pledges to cut crime in Louisville by 25 percent in the next three years.

"I believe our kids will feel safer and secure," Smith said. "I believe we can put together an action plan everyone can get behind...and I believe we'll have a different city."

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