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LMPD chief blames gangs for spike in gun violence

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 11:14 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In Louisville, 2021 is already the second-worst year for homicides, trailing only 2020.

Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Erika Shields used a word city leaders rarely mention when discussing violent crime: gangs. On Tuesday, she led a public safety town hall meeting addressing rising crime alongside Chief of Community Building Keith Talley, Pegasus Institute Executive Director Josh Crawford, and Game Changers Executive Director Christopher 2X.

“I think that if you’re going to solve a problem, you have to be willing to discuss what the problem is and what’s driving the issue,” Shields said.

Louisville has about 10 gangs with some sense of influence according to her estimate, but some of them have a greater influence on Louisville’s rising crime than others.

“What you’re finding is that these associations drive a lot of retaliatory shootings,” Shields said. “So that’s why we have an understanding of the playing field so we can be anticipatory of where the next shooting is.”

Christopher 2X emphasized the need to help young children and intervene at a young age.

Shields said the city is funding programs to keep kids out of trouble and explained they are often recruited into gangs by older members because they know children won’t face prison time if arrested or convicted.

“For them, if you don’t have opportunity or hope and someone offers you a few bucks to break in a car, OK, you’re going to do it,” the police chief said. “So that’s why it’s so important that we leverage these other programs that help kids, and we can get them off this path that they’re going down.”

Shields said owners keeping their guns locked up can help cut violent crime, as many crimes are committed with stolen weapons.

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