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Weekend Violence in Downtown Louisville Spurs Call For More Police, More Teen Voices

The violent, “mob-like” activities in downtown Louisville on Saturday has led Mayor Greg Fischer to call for extra vigilance from community members and police.Fischer held a meeting Tuesday with religious leaders, community activists and law enforcement to help outline a plan to eliminate the threat of violence at Waterfront Park, where a string of deviancy began on Saturday evening. Related: How Did So Much Violence Happen Saturday in Downtown Louisville?The presence of police in the area will be “beefed up,” the city camera systems will be enhanced and authorities will begin monitoring social media outlets more closely in hopes of identifying potential large gatherings before they happen, Fischer said.In regards to social media, Fischer encouraged anyone that sees anything suspicious online to “call 911.”“Every neighborhood in our community deserves to be a safe neighborhood,” he said.  “If you see something, say something.”Fischer also said parents must be more engaged and know where there kids are 24-hours a day.But other attendees at the meeting said increased scrutiny of community youth is not the answer.Eric Kleppe-Montenegro is the youth coordinator for PACT In Action, a program that targets teen violence in the West End.  He said for any program to be successful, actual teenagers need to be heard.“Unless they are physically present and speaking and their voices are being heard, then we wont have a solution,” Kleppe-Montenegro said.  “The kids themselves are the solution, we can’t make them change.”Of the nearly 40 people that attended the meeting, no teens were present.Anthony Smith, the city's director for safe neighborhoods, said a goal of programs that aim to combat youth violence is to reach out to the “kids that are close to the kids that might commit a violent act.“We might not get the target audience, but we’re going to work real hard."Smith said the weekend violence is not a sign the city’s violence-prevention programs have failed.“When you have incidents like this and being able to respond and having a team together able to respond, it is a success,” he said.  “I think we need to take it into consideration and understand that if these events happen can we respond fast enough so they don’t happen again.”Here’s a breakdown of the events that took place on Saturday night:Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said the first call requesting police assistance came in at 7:23 p.m. The first officer arrived on the scene at 7:25 p.m.One teenage male was arrested after he allegedly took a gun out of a trash can, Conrad said.A total of 32 calls were made to LMPD for assistance, which resulted in 17 reports filed.·         6 for criminal mischief·         5 robberies·         4 assaults·         1 for menacing·         1 theftConrad said when the mayhem was finished, 10 people had been “personally assaulted.”LMPD has been processing several tips to possible suspects, Conrad said.  Authorities are also working to enhance camera footage to better identify those involved.The upcoming weekend is set to be a busy weekend for downtown Louisville and LMPD.  It includes women's NCAA Tournament games at the KFC Yum Center, a sold out baseball game at Slugger Field and the Louisville Comic Con. The events are expected to draw nearly 40,000 people to the area over the weekend.“Our officers will be ready for anything,” Conrad said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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