LMPD wants to enlist Louisville clergy in the battle against ris - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD wants to enlist Louisville clergy in the battle against rising violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police representatives say it's time to get the city's clergy involved in curbing recent violence.

The news came even as a special dedication honored one of west Louisville's most outspoken leaders.

For years, the corner the of Vermont Avenue and Louis Coleman Jr. Drive was a haven for crime. Now, that's not case. Much of that is thanks to Bishop Dennis V. Lyons Who founded the Gospel Missionary Church at the corner.

"We changed this corner from being a crime-ridden corner to a corner of safety," said Bishop Lyons. "We went 13 years without a murder -- and this was the worst corner in the city of Louisville about 15 years ago."

On Sunday, he was honored with the ceremonial naming of the street after him. 

LMPD 2nd Division Major Jimmy Harper told attendees of the ceremony that police need the help of religious leaders.

"We're trying to unite our clergy and bring church back out onto the streets," he said.

The 2nd division includes the Shawnee, Algonquin and California neighborhoods. Harper says working with clergy members like Lyons can put a serious dent in violent crime

"If anybody doesn't think this community can be crime-free, we had a stretch in the summer where the 2nd Division did not have a homicide: seven weeks," Harper said. 

Harper says it's been four weeks since 2nd Division's last homicide. 

On pace for a record-breaking number of homicides, Chief Steve Conrad announced Friday a restructuring of the department, including a new Community Services Division.

"These officers are going to be tasked specifically with community outreach efforts to build trust and legitimacy with community," Chief Conrad said.

Lyons says that's one step, but it will take more to cut down on all the violence he's seen over the years.

"Let the community and the clergy monitor the community, maintain the community," Bishop Lyons said. "And have the policeman working for us."

Bishop Lyons says he and other clergy leaders plan to meet with LMPD and city leaders on Thursday to discuss how they can get more involved.

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