String of murders not indicative of crime rate in Louisville

Published: Jul. 29, 2013 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 18, 2013 at 8:48 PM EST
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James Moore
James Moore
Lt. Todd Kessinger
Lt. Todd Kessinger
Scotty Wilbanks (on left)
Scotty Wilbanks (on left)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A string of murders has many asking - "Is Louisville a safe place to live? Is that changing and how does the murder rate in Louisville compare to other cities?" Those are complicated questions and the answer provides a much different picture than the recent string of killings would indicate.

If the last weekend in July were the norm, the murder rate in Louisville would be the worst in the nation. Six murders in five days averages out to 427 a year. That's a per capita murder rate that would outpace crime hotbeds like New Orleans, Baltimore and Chicago.

"I don't even call it crime anymore," said James Moore, a friend of 17-year-old Darius Miller, Jr, shot and killed at the corner of South 35th Street and West Broadway. "It happens so much I'm used to it."

The reality is Louisville's overall murder rate in 2012 was far lower than the aforementioned cities' and right in line with similar size cities. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, Louisville had 62 murders in 2012 - a per capita murder rate of 9.2 per 100,000 people. Nashville was 10.6, Indianapolis was 12 and Memphis was more than double Louisville at 20.2.

What's more, violent crime in Louisville appears to be on the decline, a point Louisville Metro Police attempted to drive home at a press conference about the recent violence on Monday.

"We don't want to minimize the number that we had this weekend," said Lt. Todd Kessinger. "But if you look at the numbers from the last 10 years, we're certainly within our range."

There have been 29 murders in Louisville in the first seven months of 2013. West Louisville's Russell neighborhood tops the list with four, making it the community with the most murders.

Still, citywide murders are down compared to the same time period last year. Overall, Louisville averages about one person murdered each week. But that's enough to leave countless unanswered questions.

"I don't understand why he got shot like that," said Scotty Wilbanks, another one of Miller's friends trying to come to grips with his death.

Aggravated assaults, another violent crime indicator, are also down, falling from 1071 in the first seven months of 2012 to 879 so far in 2013.

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