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Louisville Metro Police Seeks To Open Dialogue With Young Residents

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Speaking last month at a community forum, Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad said his department has done a “terrible” job connecting with residents 25-years-old and younger.

A series of conversations set for the third Thursday of each month will look to change that, said Louisville Metro Police Lt. Jamey Schwab.

Louisville Metro Police on Thursday will begin a series of conversations aimed at opening a dialogue with young residents.

The first conversation will be at 6 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 15) at the Baxter Community Center, 1125 Cedar Court.

“The police department recognizes that this is an audience we don’t get to regularly interact with,” Schwab said.  “We want to make sure that they have a trust in police.”

Schwab said the events will be “crucial” for developing a relationship between young residents and police.

“For us to develop the report that we need to have we need to be there and be open and forthright,” he said.

The discussions will be held at community centers around the city and are being sponsored in part by Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation.

Ben Johnson, assistant director of recreation for Louisville Metro, said he isn’t “under any illusions” that every young person under 25 is going to show up to the events.

“But we hope that as we go on and these become consistent in people’s mind that as we go on that some of those young people that might be on the periphery might eventually come in and get some information first hand,” he said.

People under 29 accounted for 45 percent of all homicides in 2014 in Louisville Metro Police's jurisdiction, according to data provided by LMPD.  At the December forum, Conrad said residents 25 and younger accounted for nearly half of all gunshot victims in 2014.

From Jan. 1, 2015 to last week, 83 people 25-years-old and younger were  booked and remained in custody at Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, according to LMDOC data.

Lt. Schwab said the event is also a great way to attract young recruits to the department.

"We're always looking for recruits," he said.

The Baxter Community Center, the location of the first event of the series, is located in a U.S. Census track that is more than 90 percent African American. Louisville Metro Police is more than 85 percent white; police officials have stressed the need to increase diversity in the department.

Lt. Schwab said each event will feature a different specialty unit with LMPD.  He said the bomb squad will be present at the first event, and other events will feature hostage negation units, crime scene units and K-9 units.

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.