LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Louisville Metro Police Department and the public have noticed a recent spike in violent crime in Louisville over the past several weeks.
As of July 10, 2019, there have been 53 homicides in Louisville. That number is up from 41 homicide at the same time in 2018.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said it’s a frustrating amount of violence in such a short time.
“This violence is, or should be, alarming to everyone who calls Louisville home," Conrad said. "It’s obviously alarming to the victims and their families.”
There have been 126 non-fatal criminal shootings so far in 2019, compared to 147 last year.
“Violent crime is not just a police problem,” Conrad said Wednesday afternoon. “Everyone looks to us to fix it -- this is a community problem. It’s the entire community getting involved if we’re ever going to see any kind of a change.”
Conrad said some of the shootings and homicides are likely related to gangs, but not everything is.
“It’s too simplistic to say that all of this violence is being driven by gangs. It’s not," Conrad said. "It’s being driven in large part (by) young people having easy access to guns and being able to do something that they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
From January to June, LMPD officers confiscated 1,200 guns.
“The focus is not on all guns, it’s on guns that are being used unlawfully," Conrad said. “And it’s guns that are in the hands of convicted felons that cannot lawfully possess a gun.”
He believes if officers continue to confiscate guns at that rate, the department will end 2019 with a record year in weapon seizures.
While guns on the streets is an issue, he said a major problem is a lack of people coming forth with information related to shootings, homicides or other violent crime. In some cases, victims refuse to give their names or talk about what happened, which makes it incredibly difficult to solve cases.
“What they do tell us is that we don’t need to worry about it, they’ll take care of it,” Conrad said. “Which tells me we are going to have another tragedy in our city the next day, the next week or the next month. And that is a problem.”
Recent budget cuts eliminated an LMPD recruitment class, which Conrad believes will hurt the department down the line. But he’s hoping the community can step up and help.
“I think it’s so easy for people to think, ‘Well this kind of crime isn’t happening in my neighborhood so there’s nothing that I need to be doing,’" Conrad said. "Well they need to be locking their cars and they need to be making sure that their guns are secured. Because these guns are being stolen, these cars are being stolen and they’re being used to commit homicides and shootings in our city.”
He’s urging the public to speak up when they see something suspicious, no matter what neighborhood they live in.
“The men and women of the LMPD are all in. We’re going to do everything we can but we are in this together,” Conrad said. “I think the only way that we have a chance of stemming this recent tide of violence is for everyone to get involved. We’re looking for partners out there.”