Louisville mayor says Mall St. Matthews mayhem was a media creation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- While the St Matthews police chief talked, Wednesday, about huge problems at Mall St. Matthews, Louisville's mayor said it was largely a media creation.

WDRB sat down with Mayor Greg Fischer for a year-end interview.

The number one topic was crime, and the perception that Louisville is increasingly unsafe. It's a perception the mayor blames on the media, and he points to the incident at Mall St. Matthews.

"It was sensationalized by the media, frankly," said Fischer.

Fischer says the mayhem at the mall was overblown. He says initial police and media reports painted an inaccurate picture, despite the fact that large numbers of young people did indeed shut down the mall.

"Nobody was hurt. Nobody stole anything. There was no damage to the property. I regret that any incident happened, but for the media to blow it up like the world's coming to an end at the mall, I think is reflective of what we see in  this 24-7 media cycle that we're in right now," Fischer told WDRB.

But St. Matthews Police say there was damage, and WDRB spoke with a mother whose 16-year-old son was injured in the incident.

What is not in dispute is the dramatic increase in violence in Louisville. There have been 82 homicides so far this year, compared to 55 last year.

"The community is starting to say, 'We own part of this, too.' We're not going to arrest our way out of homicides. It has to be a situation where everybody's involved to help prevent crime in the first place. But I think the overall message is crime overall is down," said Fischer.

So far, concerns about crime have not affected economic development. Louisville's unemployment rate is down and construction is booming.

The mayor expects 2016 to usher in more transformation

"Especially when you look out three years from now because of all the construction that we now have funded, but hasn't started. Downtown Louisville is going to be a very different place than what it is right now, and already it's an exciting, growing place,” said Fischer.

But what will 2016 bring for Fischer himself? He's among the names mentioned as a potential challenger for Rand Paul's Senate seat.

"I'm just starting my second term, and really look forward to positioning Louisville as one of the great cities in the country," he said.

When asked whether that answer was a "yes" or a "no" to a senate run," Fischer continued.

"It means I got a lot left to do in my job, and I intend to do this job as mayor."

Fischer says his top priority for the 2016 legislative session is, once again, passage of the Local Option Sales Tax.

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