As Louisville homicide toll totals 81, a local expert suggests c - WDRB 41 Louisville News

As Louisville homicide toll totals 81, a local expert suggests change

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Dr. Jennifer Ortiz Dr. Jennifer Ortiz

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)-- It seems like the same vicious cycle day in and day out.  There's just a different scene, a changing victim and a different person behind bars for murder. 

After a Labor Day shooting in the Russell neighborhood, LMPD says the city's homicide toll stands at 81 for the year.  

There were only 80 all of last year.

"I think there's a lot that needs to be done." said Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, an assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at IU Southeast. 

Dr. Ortiz studies numbers and trends in crime across the country. She says the trouble she's seeing in Louisville resembles what's happening in another hurting American city.

There have already been 500 murders in Chicago this year.

"The south side of Chicago, economically, resembles the west end of Louisville," she said.

Dr. Ortiz says both are concentrated areas of poverty where drugs, especially heroin, are now fueling the hardship.

"They're not living the American dream, so to speak," she said. "A lot of them are excluded from the economic structure, from the social structure. When there is an active drug market, or a growing drug market, we will inevitably see higher crime."

She explained that there are three ways to dig out of this. It starts by finding alternatives for jail.

"We can't incarcerate our way out of a problem," Dr. Ortiz said.

She also thinks the relationship between police and the community needs to continually improve.

"We have to create the same perceptions that exist in lower crime neighborhoods," she said. "That the police are there to help you."

More than anything, Dr. Oritz said people in the west end need employment and hope for the future. "

If you give someone a chance to become something else, maybe they won't become a drug dealer."

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