Louisville crime magnet losing its pull - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville crime magnet losing its pull

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In 2012, at the height of the West Louisville violence spree, John Boel sat in the middle of a parking lot at Beecher Terrace Community Center and recorded what he saw. In 2012, at the height of the West Louisville violence spree, John Boel sat in the middle of a parking lot at Beecher Terrace Community Center and recorded what he saw.
Christopher 2X Christopher 2X
Lt. Shawn Hensler Lt. Shawn Hensler

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Buyers and sellers. Dollars and drugs. Guns and gunshot victims.

In 2012, at the height of the West Louisville violence spree, I sat in the middle of a parking lot at Beecher Terrace Community Center. Each day I was there I recorded widespread drug dealing, as well as a handgun being passed. Before I left 12th and Cedar, a man was murdered on the same corner.

"I feel as though what this report will reveal, hopefully, is an urgency of us to do our own internal cleansing," said Christopher 2X, a community activist. "Because I don't believe law enforcement is a solution to get us out of this problematic situation."

Someone forgot to tell law enforcement they're not a solution. Right after that story aired, the Louisville Metro Police Department launched the VIPER Unit, a specialty squad targeting high crime areas like Beecher Terrace. Plus, the Metro Housing Authority and beat patrol officers amped up pressure.

Almost daily, for months, I noticed arrest reports in Beecher Terrace where loitering in the area of 12th and Cedar often turned into a drug bust of someone who does not live in Beecher Terrace. A breakdown of arrests confined to the four block Beecher Terrace housing complex showed 761 arrests over the past two years. That was an average of one per day. Trespassing arrests also averaged almost one per day.

"Because a lot of the criminal element don't live there," said Lt. Shawn Hensler of the LMPD's First Division. "They come there to hang out and do their drug activity."

"If we see large groups of people out just hanging out, not doing anything, if we believe they're selling drugs or something, gives us reasonable suspicion to go up and talk to them," said Sgt. Shawn Hoover of the Housing Authority unit.

"The minimum, we go up and just talk to people," said Hensler. "No violation in that. Just go find out what's going on. We engage people to see what their story is, most of the time, if suspicious, they start heading the other way anyway."

Recently, I undercover again - back to the same spot I recorded from before. During this trip I noticed a big difference. There were few hand to hand transactions and many police officers in marked and unmarked units.

"They're very smart in what they do," Hoover said. "If they see marked cars they'll yell or use hand signals to alert from other blocks away, so by the time you get here people already disperse and you don't see anything."

"Y'all done a good job," yelled one resident to the passing officers. "But there's still some work to be done. There's still some around here you need to get."

Hensler knows that. Violent crime is still high there, and there is still more crime per square mile in Beecher Terrace than other areas of town. Hensler said the biggest obstacle in high crime spots like Beecher Terrace is getting the residents to trust police.

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