LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - He was supposed to help stop violence, but that same city-paid employee is now facing charges of rape and assault.
WAVE 3 News broke the story in an exclusive Troubleshooter investigation Monday. And now, Dwight Taylor’s criminal records, which include violent charges, have come to light.
As a so-called “Interrupter” -- a city employee hired to prevent or interrupt crime -- Taylor was earning a $33,000 salary, backed by taxpayers. He worked for the City’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhood’s Cure Violence program, contracted through the YMCA of Greater Louisville, the head of the department, Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, said.
As part of the Cure Violence model, Interrupters do often have criminal records. But group leaders believe the Interrupters’ records are what help them do their job.
WAVE 3 News learned that Taylor, now fired from the program, pleaded guilty to trafficking in January 2018, and was hired as an Interrupter eight months later.
WAVE 3 News also found a 2012 allegation similar to the one for which he was arrested Friday. Court records show Taylor pleaded guilty to assault after he allegedly hit and strangled a woman.
Other charges date back to 2002 and continue until 2017. There are charges of wanton endangerment, assault, trafficking and gun possession.
WAVE 3 News also found a hand-written letter to a judge, where Taylor said he’s helped organize other community groups to help youth. And that is what the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods said its Interrupters are supposed to be doing. The office previously told WAVE 3 News it has faith in the Interrupters program as a way to prevent crime and treat it as a public health issue.
“Let’s follow the evidence,” Rahman said. “Let’s look at all of our work, and let’s look at what the evidence tells us is an effective approach to reducing violence in the city.”
City Council Member Anthony Piagentini said he wants to see that evidence and that he questions the program’s results.
It is still unclear what the process is to become an Interrupter, and whether background checks are part of that process. The YMCA of Greater Louisville provided the following statement to WAVE 3 News.
“The YMCA of Greater Louisville conducts thorough background checks of all employees, including pre-employment and annual checks for existing staff. The City of Louisville approached the YMCA to serve as a site partner for The Cure Violence program, which is an isolated and unique collaboration for the Y because it engages individuals who are known to have criminal backgrounds, as part of the organizers’ philosophy of reducing violence in communities. We cannot divulge additional employment information about this individual as we are required to adhere to employment privacy guidelines.”
LMPD does not hire the Interrupters, but Rahman said the program manager meets with LMPD leaders every other week.
Rahman said he still supports the program, as does LMPD Chief Steve Conrad. They have said they believe the program will help prevent violence while treating it as a public health issue.