New push to reach potential violence victims begins

Police walked Smoketown, am LMPD described criminal activity hot spot

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With so many teens involved in recent violence, WAVE 3 News has learned about a new directive to reach potential victims before the bullets do.

It’s the work of investigators, detectives and the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

Police know where the violence is, but officers also work to find out where violence could break out next. The new push is a way to prevent the bloodshed from happening in the first place.

WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters learned some of the people the directive is aimed at saving are as young as 14 years old.

Tuesday, WAVE 3 News witnessed officers walking in Smoketown, an area LMPD identified as a hot spot based on criminal activity.

But sources said Tuesday’s effort was much more targeted than that. It’s part of a plan to reach specific individuals who may be at risk of becoming victims. Officers received the information Tuesday morning during a meeting. Sources said Smoketown is not the only place they will visit in the upcoming days.

LMPD said it is working with the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods for outreach, but would not talk further about the directive involving specific individuals.

LMPD Homicide Lt. Emily McKinley said last week that several of the suspects in recent shootings are young people. One suspect in a triple shooting on Hill and 13th streets, for example, was just 14 years old.

While WAVE 3 News walked around Smoketown, a store owner who said he loves the neighborhood also said most of those causing the violence don’t live there.

His store could be considered located at ground zero, a place where violence constantly looms, prompting police to walk the streets to prevent more bloodshed.

“They can’t stop all the killing, but they’re trying,” store owner Joe Ali said.

Ali and his store have been in Smoketown for 37 years, where inside, the troubles seem to disappear.

He said he runs one of very few stores in Smoketown selling food, and offers a much-needed sense of community.

“Everyone around here loves Joe,” one customer said.

Ali said he is well aware of the world outside of his store, but stood by his customers.

“I won’t blame it on the neighborhood,” he said. “I won’t. Everywhere you go, you’re going to find good people and bad people, but to me, in here, it’s like family.”

Ali’s window is lined with pictures of his customers’ children.

“I’ve been nice to people and they’ve been nice to me,” he said.

Ali said he’s been robbed three times before, not too bad for being in business for 37 years, he said.

Still, he and his customers welcome the officers right outside Tuesday.

“We really need them doing that all day, all night,” his customer said. “Not just for one moment.”

But one person who said he’s not going anywhere is Ali.

“When they tear the projects down, Joe will still be open,” the customer said as he pointed to a sign stating just that.

Meanwhile, a city spokesperson said the city doesn’t have a date for how long the new partnership and walking detail will last.

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