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Louisville mayor hosting series of ‘community conversations’ around gun violence

Craig Greenberg stands at a wood lectern with the Louisville seal on it. Four people are standing or seated behind him.
Roberto Roldan
/
LPM
Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg honored gun violence survivors during a press conference on Feb. 6, 2023.

Mayor Craig Greenberg is looking for residents’ help to develop strategies for reducing Louisville’s gun violence crisis.

Violent crime surged locally starting in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Last year, the city recorded 160 homicides and hundreds more were injured in non-fatal shootings. Louisville saw 173 murders in 2020, an all-time record.

City leaders will solicit ideas from residents about how to stop the violence at an event on Feb. 21 at the Muhammad Ali Center, Greenberg announced last week.

“We will have facilitated discussions,” he said at a press conference marking National Gun Violence Survivors Week. “We will break out into small groups. We will have reports back to the entire group, and hopefully we’ll be focusing on specific solutions.”

Greenberg said the city hired professional facilitators to help keep the discussions productive. Officials with the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and the Louisville Metro Police Department will also attend, he said.

Within hours of the announcement, a spokesperson for the Greenberg administration told LPM News the event was full and no longer accepting attendees. In January, the mayor had asked people interested in being part of a gun violence working group to call his office. Those who called were given first priority to attend.

On Friday, Greenberg spokesperson Kevin Trager said planning for a second community conversation is already underway.

“This will most likely be next month,” Trager said. “We’ll announce details for that event soon.”

Louisville officials are also planning other ways to engage residents and community leaders on public safety issues.

Interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, who took the reins of LMPD after Erika Shields resigned last month, said rebuilding trust and cooperation between the department and the public is one of her top priorities. She’s said she’s working on putting together community forums tailored to activists, business owners and faith leaders.

“We want to hear that feedback so we actually know where we’re standing,” she said during a recent interview. “There’s a lot of healing that needs to be done in Louisville. It’s not going to happen overnight. I’m not naive to believe that, but I am optimistic that we can get on the road and head that direction.”

Gwinn-Villaroel said having a good relationship with residents is critical to LMPD’s ability to solve violent crimes and ensure “we don’t have a murderer in the midst of the community.”

Angela Ingram, a spokesperson for LMPD, said last week the department is still finalizing the details for its community forums.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.