City leaders hope programs will help curb violence during long, - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City leaders hope programs will help curb violence during long, hot summer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's murder rate is trending ahead of last year's pace, and summer is just starting.

The head of Louisville’s Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods office says there are programs to help keep young people occupied and out of Metro Corrections this summer. But he also says there is no magic answer to the violence.

At Metro Corrections on Wednesday morning, the suspect in Louisville’s latest murder pleaded not guilty. Ja'Lyn Wells, 19, is accused of shooting another 19-year-old, Ryan Higdon, in the face during a robbery at Riverview Park.

During the arraignment, District Judge David Holton had sobering words for Wells.

“Young man, these are very serious and sad charges,” he said.

It has been a “serious and sad” season of guns and death in Louisville; close to 50 murders already this year. And the summer months, when violence normally peaks, is just beginning.

At Riverview Park, where Higdon's body was found, families admit they're concerned.

"I got a 6-year-old boy, and there are a lot of young men being killed out there, especially black men. So, basically, it concerns me, but I don’t know what we can do about it,” Johnny Mathieu said.

“When I got here, they told me there was a murder, and I didn’t know about it. So it’s kind of close to home,” said a mom who identified herself only as “Mo.”

“It's really an all-hands-on-deck effort,” said Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, Louisville's Director of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

He says the city is working closely with public and private agencies to offer summer activities for young people.

“Some of the things that we’re doing with our Parks and Rec Dept ... they’re certainly extending summer hours and providing more opportunities for summer camps,” he said.

Rahman also points to Louisville's new Pivot to Peace program, which works with victims of violence while they're still in the hospital.

“Then, ideally and hopefully, it will pivot those individuals away from a course of retaliation into a different path," he said.

But beyond programs, Rahman says it's going to take effort from every individual in every neighborhood.

“It’s a defining moment for us as a city for everybody to step up and say, 'we’re all tired of this, we’re all sick of this, we all want to see changes,'” Rahman said.

That's also the message from one concerned dad.

“It's got to come from us to make a change in that gun situation,” Mathieu said.

Rahman admits it's frustrating to see the rise in violence, but he also knows ending it is a long-term effort.

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