Louisville targeting repeat gun offenders in new multi-agency program
Local prosecutors and law enforcement are taking part in Louisville’s new Prohibited Firearm Possessor initiative. They’re aiming to more easily identify and prosecute people who repeatedly commit gun crimes, with the goal of preventing homicides.
A group of local leaders announced the program Tuesday, including Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel and Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerina Whethers.
The initiative targets people who are barred from owning guns but still commit firearm crime. Leaders hope that by going after them, they can deal a significant blow against violent crime.
Greenberg said the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has selected prosecutors to lead investigations associated with the new program.
“We saw an opportunity to work together through a multi-agency approach,” said Greenberg, “to be more proactive and ultimately identify repeat offenders to get them off the streets and make Louisville safer.”
The initiative includes representatives from:
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Louisville Field Division
- The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office
- The Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office for Jefferson County
- The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky’s Office
LMPD Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Crowell said the program will also look into factors like gang involvement and criminal activity. He described it as a way to create “a more informed and coordinated prosecution of our most violent and persistent offenders.”
But he added that the city has an “overburdened criminal justice system” and has begun by looking at four cases.
“We want to keep that very tight and intentional, to make sure that we don't water down this initiative with inappropriate cases, or individuals that don't belong there,” Crowell said.
Homicides in Louisville peaked in 2021, and the city’s gun violence dashboard shows there were more than 800 shootings that year. The number of shootings dipped to 560 in 2023, a nearly 33% drop compared to 2021, which recorded the highest level of shootings in publicly available data that goes back to 2010. But last year’s rate was still much higher than in pre-pandemic years.
Earlier Tuesday, the Crescent Hill Community Council announced the two winners of its contest for ideas on reducing gun violence in Louisville. The prizes went to people who submitted ideas for art and awareness campaigns that would discourage improperly using guns.
At the event, Cynthia Garrett spoke about her experience with gun violence in Louisville. Her 20-year-old daughter Alexandrea was killed during a robbery in March 2020.
Garrett said her daughter had graduated high school a year early and was full of compassion, and described the difficulty of going through life without her.
“I don't want anyone else to know this pain. Because this pain doesn't stop right here. It lasts forever, and it creeps up on us daily,” Garrett said.