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Former US attorney calls for legislative oversight on Louisville gun violence

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Former United States Attorney Russell Coleman asked state legislators to oversee how Louisville is handling its problem with deadly gun violence.

“For too long, with all due respect to members of this committee, there’s been an approach to Louisville as if your authority ends at the border of metro Louisville,” Coleman said Thursday at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.

Coleman’s comments were in support of Louisville’s Gun Violence Initiative (GVI), an approach designed to reduce gun violence and prevent more homicides.

Lawmakers supporting police reacted strongly in favor of intervention, blaming the city for a lack of cooperation.

“We tried intervening I’m things in Louisville,” Rep. John Blanton (R-District 92) said. “We get told to stay away from Louisville. They don’t want us in Louisville. They don’t want Frankfort deciding what goes on in Louisville.”

Coleman warned that violence is a problem for the entire state.

“You receive your narcotics and a nexus of violence out of Louisville,” Coleman said. “It’s not just bourbon, It’s not just gray trucks. We are exporting violence to your cities.”

At a time when Louisville is on a record pace to set new records for homicides, Coleman was joined by Louisville mother Krista Gwynn who lost her son to gun violence and whose daughter was recently wounded in a separate shooting.

“My son did everything we asked of him,” Gwynn said tearfully. “My son was 19. He had a 10 o’clock curfew. My son was gunned down at 9:20.”

Coleman recommended a dialogue directly between the legislature and Louisville’s new police chief.

“Many of us are optimistic about our new chief and our new command staff,” Coleman said. “But there seems to be also this chasm between Frankfort and Metro Louisville government, that there has been this hands-off view of metro Louisville. It is either part of the Commonwealth or it isn’t.”

Officials with the City of Louisville were not invited to be part of the presentation before Thursday’s Kentucky Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary meeting.

In a statement from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, he said Coleman’s comments at the Capitol were “surprising and disappointing.” He said:

“As Louisville, like cities across the nation, experiences an uptick in gun violence, Metro Government is focused on a six-pillar, whole-of-government approach to violence prevention. That includes the commitment of all Metro employees, including our Police Chief and our hard-working officers, as well as those involved in stopping violence before it starts. Our FY22 budget quadruples our investments in violence prevention. Mr. Coleman’s comments are surprising and disappointing, given that during his time as US Attorney we worked in partnership to secure and implement federal assistance to combat the challenge of gun violence, including our work with GVI. The bottom line is that reducing gun violence is a national problem that requires we work in partnership -- local, state and federal.”

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