Money axed from city’s Violence Interrupters program to keep other priorities afloat

Money axed from city’s Violence Interrupters program to keep other priorities afloat

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - WAVE 3 News showed you the good, the bad and the list of problems with Louisville’s Violence Interrupters, a program which hired ex-cons to stop violence and has now been axed by council members.

The Interrupters were paid by taxpayers more than $30,000 a year.

WAVE 3 News exposed a series of problems with the program through a number of investigations this year.

"When you look at the way the program was being run, there was just a lack of confidence that it could go forward and the budget reflects that," Councilman Kevin Kramer said.

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The council cut more than $1 million from the Louisville’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, which administers the program. OSHN contracted the Interrupters through the non-profit group No More Red Dots and the YMCA.

WAVE 3 News found the contracts with those vendors were not always being followed. For example, the contracts stated a member of law enforcement had to be part of the Interrupter hiring process, something that WAVE 3 News discovered did not happen.

“There was more of a concern about how it was managed and how it was functioning in reality, and the thing that were supposed to be done that were not being done,” Council President David James said.

After the headlines, the hearings and the public outcry, Kramer said the $1 million cut will be used elsewhere like opening two pools next year, opening the Middletown Library, and place funds for the library in Fern Creek.

“We were able to do things with those resources that the mayor had suggested were impossible,” Kramer said.

The council did not cut funds for OSHN’s case managers or social workers at UofL Hospital, which also had recently cut ties with No More Red Dots.

Kramer and James said they are not entirely opposed to talking with Cure Violence, the organization that spearheaded the Violence Interrupters and has had success in other cities like Brooklyn, New York.

“It would require some, some change that would instill confidence on this side of the street that the program would actually be successful,” Kramer said.

OSHN recently entered into a new $100,000 contract with Cure Violence. Wednesday, it told WAVE 3 News it will continue to work with the organization to figure out the next steps.

OSHN had suspended payments to No More Red Dots for financial discrepancies. Wednesday, it said those financial issues have been resolved, lifting the suspensions of payments. It also said the contract with No More Red Dots expires July 1.

No More Red Dots Director Dr. Eddie Woods said his group’s work will continue.

“No More Red Dots will not stop,” he said. “Violence prevention is what we do. The pay stops. Starts. Stops again. But we have to do what we can do to make our city safer. The story was never No More Red Dots.”

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