Louisville's 'safety czar' says city faces 'incredible challenge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville's 'safety czar' says city faces 'incredible challenge' in reducing violent crime

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Rashaad Abdur-Rahman took over the job as director of the Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Department in 2015. Rashaad Abdur-Rahman took over the job as director of the Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Department in 2015.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With a record number of murders, guns and shootings in Louisville, many are calling for LMPD Chief Steve Conrad to quit.

But some forget the promises made when Louisville's so-called "safety czar" was appointed in 2013. Mayor Greg Fischer created the position separate from police to help cut crime.

Rashaad Abdur-Rahman took over the job as director of the Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Department in 2015.

"Safety czar may be a bit melodramatic," he said. "I think this office was created within the administration as a place to be thinking about and looking toward solutions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Some of those solutions include programs in place to help people coming out of jail to help them avoid falling back to a life of crime. Partnerships with local churches and newly hired community outreach workers also troubleshoot in the city's poorest zip codes.

Four years later, Louisville's murder rate has more than doubled. In fact, it's on track to break last year's record of 117. But the answers aren't easy for anyone, especially Abdur-Rahman.

"No one has indicated that is a problem that would be solved quickly," he said.

Abdur-Rahman's predecessor promised the office would cut crime by 25 percent in five years.

"Any successful enterprise has consistency and constancy of purpose and doesn't jump around from day to day, depending on what the latest great idea is or pressure you see from the community that leads to more failures and weaknesses than anything else," Fischer said.

The message from Fischer is much like his opinion on Conrad: Stay the course. In fact, he's doubling down, proposing to double the safe neighborhoods budget to $1 million in the next fiscal year. The department has grown from one employee to ten since its creation in 2013.

"We hope to see greater results, but no one is satisfied with the situation now," Abdur-Rahman said. "That's why we continue to work at push at it ... We are facing an incredible challenge, but we will not be outworked."

The Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods department is now accepting application for the One Love Louisville Youth Implementation team, a group of young people who meet with Fischer and Conrad to work on solutions.

To apply for the implementation team, click here.

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