City leader says LMPD needs to acknowledge gang problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City leader says LMPD needs to acknowledge gang problem

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A city official wants more answers from police about the gang problem in Louisville. 

It came up when the Public Safety Committee met with LMPD leadership Wednesday afternoon to talk about the recent violence. 

Police say so far this year, homicides are down compared to 2015 but shootings are up. 

In the last two months, 55 people were shot. 

Councilman David James, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, asked what percentage of the shootings are tied to gangs. 

"Everybody knows that there is gang activity in certain parts of the city," said homicide unit Lt. Todd Kessinger. "But the hard thing about that, and I get asked that question a lot, the hard part about that is, it's not like everybody that participates in crime going to admit to being in what gang they're in. But we see the signs, we hear the chatter." 

Kessinger said he could not give an exact percentage. 

With follow up questions from council members, police could only offer a few details like gangs are usually associated with local neighborhoods and often involve young teens.   

James tells us he left the meeting unsatisfied and that he thinks the city is trying to distance itself from the word 'gang.' 

He says officers have told him that Louisville does have a gang problem and city officials are ignoring it. 

"I believe that LMPD should publicly talk about gangs, should acknowledge that they exist, should have a centralized way of gathering that information instead of dealing with it division by division," James explained. 

Police say the department has gang experts that would be better suited to answer questions on the topic from these city leaders. 

"It would really be not be the right thing to do for either of us to come up here and speak about something that is really not in our area of expertise," LMPD Assistant Chief Greg Burns said. 

James says he's asked Chief Steve Conrad to address the issue. He's expected to go before the committee later this month. 

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