Lexington is looking for a new anti-violence coordinator, a program as a murder surge

The city of Lexington is looking for a new anti-violence emperor as the number of murders has skyrocketed in recent weeks.

To date, 15 people have been killed in Lexington.It’s coming In 2020, there were 34 record murders, up 13% from the previous year.

As of April 9, there were 30 non-fatal shootings. According to Lexington Police Station statistics.. This is about the same number of non-fatal shootings at this time last year. In 2020, there were 140 non-fatal shootings.

Laura Hatfield, Secretary-General of ONE Lexington, which oversees government and non-profit anti-violence programs, resigned earlier this month to join the city’s parks and recreation sector.

ONE Lexington was created in 2017 to help coordinate and improve anti-violence programs in Lexington, especially among young people.

Tyler Scott, chief of staff for Mayor Linda Gorton of Lexington, said the city wants to replace Hatfield soon.

“We are still in the expected position, but it could rise,” Scott said.

Hatfield is moving to the park to generate more youth programming and activity. This is also the key to preventing violence, “he said.

At the same time, the city recently issued a request for proposal to nonprofits and others on how to build better and more connected youth violence prevention programs. Those proposals will be returned to the city on April 26th.

The coronavirus pandemic has shut down many youth programs over the past year. These youth programs are back online, as the number of cases of the new coronavirus is declining and the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 is increasing, Scott said.

There are many great programs, but “we need to focus on steroids,” Scott said. He said deploying youth programming and youth intervention programs using the Lexington-wide community center is one way to ensure that the program reaches everyone.

“For it to be preventive, it must be able to function and provide many opportunities to stop violence,” Scott said.

Another important position in the mayor’s office is also vacant, linked to drugs and violence.

Andrea James who was leading Gorton’s Opioid Task Force, Resigned earlier this month. Scott tells the city whether it should be maintained or could be absorbed by others in the city hall who are doing similar work to counter opioid use and increased overdose. Said that was about to decide. Tentative numbers released in February 2021 show that the city had record numbers. Overdose at 209 in 2020, Mirroring State-wide and national trends..

“We want to make sure everyone is doing something unique,” ​​Scott said.

Is there mass violence behind Lexington’s murder?

Building United Interface Lexington through Direct Action, BUILD is a coalition of 26 member congregations representing more than 2,000 people who have lobbyed the city on a variety of issues, including establishing an affordable housing program for the city.

At a rally on Tuesday night, BUILD also urged the city to implement a national network group violence intervention program for safe communities. Target mass violence through social services and other outreach programs .. BUILD has been urging the city to implement this program for several years.

“We have been working to resolve the violence,” said Cheryl Birch, whose son Germain Birch was killed in a 2009 shooting. Birch said he has been a member of the BUILD committee for the past six years.

“I’ve heard from city leaders that Lexington has no problems with’group violence’,” Birch said. “… We have faced so much resistance to change. Violence continues. We bring together the entire community with the mayor, police chief and other leaders. I hope that I need an outside expert to help Lexington get back on track. “

In 2019, the city agreed to spend $ 35,000 on a national network for the secure community of John Jay University to study mass violence in Lexington. After investigating 117 murders and 221 non-fatal shootings over the years, 34% of murders and 30% of non-fatal shootings may be associated with mass violence in this study. Was judged.

Mass violence is not the same as a gangster. Gang violence involves criminal operations involving multiple people with official rules. Studies have shown that mass violence can simply reach multiple people.

Leaders of the BUILD organization believe that mass violence has contributed to the recent increase in Lexington murders.

Pastor Joseph Owens of the Shilobaptist Church said: Owens is the Co-Chair of BUILD.

In cities, national networks for safe communities are active in mass violence, due to more than half of all murders or non-fatal shootings.

“The findings above show a low level of group involvement in murder and non-fatal shooting. However, the ongoing review process detailed in our findings is the first. It indicates that the group may be more involved in more serious violence than identified.

The city has begun its ongoing review process to monitor the involvement of mass crimes, said Ken Armstrong, director of public security. We also followed other recommendations from the survey.

Armstrong and Scott said there were other concerns about the national network program for secure communities. The program typically targets the neighborhoods of blacks or the majority of ethnic minorities.

“In some cities it worked very well,” Scott said. “In other cities, they ran into a lot of problems because the program targeted minority neighborhoods, which was something we weren’t very comfortable with.”

Murder cases are skyrocketing in cities across the country, including Louisville, according to Armstrong. This is an increase of about 21%, “occurs in cities with (National Network for Safe Communis) and cities without that program.”

“In some cities, it’s a record high,” said Armstrong.

But Armstrong and Scott said they were open to learning more and did not rule out the program. Armstrong said it was premature to say what was behind the surge in gun violence, especially among teenagers. It may take some time to figure out all the reasons. According to Armstrong, murder and shooting each have their own unique aspects.

“I’m happy that individuals are interested in this issue,” Armstrong said. More community involvement is needed to combat gun violence.

“We don’t have to work directly with us to reach our goals,” Armstrong said. “If you are interested in the life of a young person, it can make a big difference.”