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Louisville's Homicide Count Continues To Climb

Police caution tape
Creative Commons
A 17-year-old has been charged as an adult for attempted murder after police say he fired shots at Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer's home in September.

The murder tally in Louisville is spiking this year.

As of Wednesday, Louisville Metro Police report 81 homicides since the beginning of the year. That's the highest year-to-date total since at least 2006, police records show.

At least six murders have also been reported this year by other law enforcement in Jefferson County, according to a report from the Courier-Journal.

That brings the year-to-date murder tally to 87, surpassing the 2015 murder tally (84) for Jefferson County.

More than half (44) of this year's homicide victims reported by LMPD are between 18 and 34 years of age. Of those, nearly half (21) are African-American men.

The city is on pace to potentially exceed the all time record for homicides in a single year, which came in 1971 when 110 murders were recorded in Louisville, according to police data.

The surging murder count is a point of concern for city leaders and police officials.

LMPD chief Steve Conrad has blamed the uptick on a number of causes, including drugs, gangs and a lack of overall support from the community.

“I’m talking about our families, and I’m talking our schools, and I’m talking about our churches,” he told a Louisville Metro Council committee earlier this year.

Conrad and other police officials are holding regular "peace walks" in neighborhoods across the city to meet residents and hear concerns.

The high homicide tally also prompted Mayor Greg Fischer to change course in calling on state legislators to allow local municipalities to enact local gun laws. In May, he said pushingfor such a change is akin to "chasing windmills."

By June, Fischer said "we should have the right" to implement local gun safety laws.

Earlier this year, the Metro Council bolstered the police department’s surveillance budget by more than $210,000 to help fight violent crime. The funds will be used at Conrad’s discretion for either additional security cameras or a newer technology that uses an array of audio sensors to detect and alert police of gunshots.

Conrad is expected to make a spending decision later this year.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.