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Residents, Council Members Talk Solutions For Louisville Violence

Less than a week after Gov. Matt Bevin called for prayer and community walks as an answer to surging violence in West Louisville, a group of residents gathered Monday night to voice their concerns.

The meeting at Cole's Place bar in West Louisville was hosted by a group of Metro Council members calling for police chief Steve Conrad to resign. But the lawmakers didn't find much support for getting rid of Conrad.

Violent crime is surging in Louisville and particularly western neighborhoods. Some council members have made a vocal push in recent weeks for Conrad to resign from his post as the head of the city’s police department.

The council members who hosted the Monday event were Cheri Bryant Hamilton, Jessica Green, David James and Mary Woolridge. Each represents parts of West and Central Louisville.

Robert Cross is a 66-year-old resident of Shawnee. He said police shouldn’t be charged with stopping the rise of violence in the city.

"If they could, it would be solved," he said. "I think it’s a number of things. A lot of it has to do with the family, a lot of it has to do with the conditions in the communities these kids live in. A lot of it has to do with where they are, these kids are, where they are in their own head."

Residents called for more funding for community centers and programs geared toward supporting children and young people.

Louisville Metro Police have reported 56 homicides this year. Conrad has stressed his intent to remain the head of the city’s police department, and he has the support of Mayor Greg Fischer.

Kenneth Forbes also attended the Monday evening meeting. His son was murdered in 2012. He said the problem of surging violence goes beyond police leadership, and he said council members bear some responsibility.

"What y'all need to do is put some money in these neighborhoods," he said. "There’s no money in these neighborhoods, nothing for these kids to do."

In a statement after the meeting, Fischer said the dialogue at the meeting was "open and mature."

"As many people stated, crime is a multifaceted problem that needs many solutions — mentors, community programs to engage youth, summer jobs for teens, reentry programs and further investment in smart policing," Fischer said. "I also appreciate the commonsense conclusions from citizens who said there is no one or two simple solutions. Everyone plays a role in public safety — from business to churches to elected leaders."

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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