Officials promise ‘intense’ focus on Louisville gangs if violence continues
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Leaders in gangs responsible for Louisville’s out-of-control deadly violence were invited to sit down with a who’s who of city and law enforcement officials. What they heard was what some describe as a carrot and a stick.
In a press release issued after a closed-door and unpublicized meeting Wednesday evening in West Louisville, Louisville mayor Greg Fischer is quoted as telling the gang leaders, “Today marks a new day for the way our city is going to respond to gun violence, and you have the great opportunity to be part of the wave of change in how we will deal with violence.”
LMPD Chief Erika Shields is also quoted alluding to a tougher approach to the violence saying, “We are paying particular attention to the most violent groups in the city. If you endanger our community, you will receive our focus.”
City officials, after the meeting, offered general descriptions of this “focus,” indicating police and courts would work to clamp down on gang leaders and their associates on criminal and non-criminal offenses.
“From child support to jaywalking to what have you,” Keith Talley, Louisville Metro Chief of Community Building said. “If you’re group is a driver of violence, it is not just you, it is your entire group. That focus will be intense.”
Twenty gang leaders were invited to the meeting; six confirmed they would attend and only two showed up.
In addition to promises of law enforcement pressure, there were offers of assistance to take them individuals of their violence path.
There was an emotional appeal from a grieving mother. ACE Project founder Rose Smith lost her son to the city’s violence.
She cautioned the gang members to consider the affect their violent actions would have on their families.
“Grandmothers, a lot of grandmothers raise grandkids because the child, the father or the mother, is not in their lives,” Smith said. “And a lot of it is due to gun violence. You do not want that. You do not want your children going through that. It’s traumatic. It’s very traumatic.”
The poor turnout from the gangs is not viewed by city officials as a deterrent to attempting more meetings. The Wednesday face-to-face meeting is considered to be the beginning of a long and difficult conversation.
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