By Frances Kuo
(LOUISVILLE, June 24th, 2004, 5:30 p.m.) -- The rising number of violent crime in Louisville has one local activist group asking for outside help. The city recently was visited by a youth leader from Little Rock, Arkansas, which successfully fought a raging crime wave a decade ago. WAVE 3's Frances Kuo reports.
Marq Cohen may be from Little Rock, but the problems his community faces sound familiar. "We have kids in our communities who are our grandchildren, children, friends of family who are dying for no reason."
Little Rock experienced a surge in crime in the early '90s. "This outgrowth came primarily through drugs, gangs, homicidal crimes, which was really staggering for that type of community," Cohen says.
Then the number of juvenile arrests were cut in half, thanks to a special program based on a national model.
Cohen says "you gather data, you educate the people, and you develop action around your educational process."
It's a collaboration of everyone in the community. With the program used in Little Rock, Cohen says "you always had an officer there or a facilitator, and with that they gave an opportunity for citizens to call."
Some Louisville residents like Benetha Ellis, were skeptical. "We'll be back here 10 years from now, talking about the same thing, and all our kids will be dead or on drugs."
But with 32 homicides by the third week in June, others believe any step is a step in the right direction.
Ronnie Flippins believes. "I think if Rev. Coleman, Miss Mattie -- all of us -- get out and try, we talk, we get hands-on, we build up the spirit of this neighborhood, I think it'll work.
Major Darcie, a Louisville Metro Police officer in the fourth district, also thinks any plan to stop the senseless killing is worthwhile. "If you try something, it doesn't work, you try something else. So I think the whole department, the whole city can work on that.
Community activist Mattie Jones says it's critical that something be done immediately. "It's urgent, this is a matter of life and death that we take our children back."
Cohen said the program took 18 months to get organized, so he acknowledges it's not a quick fix. Rev. Louis Coleman with the Justice Resource Center is now working with community leaders to try to get the project moving here in Louisville.
Online Reporter: Frances Kuo