By Phillip Lentsch–
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer opened discussion on community issues surrounding the downtown area as part of the Yearlings Club’s fall discussion series.
The Sept. 18 discussion was led by U of L professor Nat Irvin, and operated in an interview-style format. Fischer and Irvin spoke on several topics, but talk mainly centered around crime.
In the wake of multiple robberies and sexual assaults around U of L’s campus this last week, Fischer was adamant to speak on what’s being done in response to these incidents. Although all three episodes were in or near the Old Louisville area, Fischer spoke on crime in the city as a whole – particularly when it occurs in low-income areas.
“We have been very active in finding ways to reduce crime in low-income areas, especially when it comes to loss of life,” Fischer said.
Fischer also touched on how crime in Louisville has declined in the last four years, but the past 18 months have included numerous problems. Citing many reasons for this, he spoke on the effects drugs, firearms and lack of educational opportunity have on children growing up in violent areas.
“Kids in low-income areas of the city are often not receiving the proper resources and support to do what’s important in their youth,” Fischer said. “There are so many adolescents that don’t even have access to proper schooling, and as a result they end up three to four years behind some of their more privileged peers. It’s pretty difficult to take school seriously and not end up on the streets when you’re three to four years behind.”
When asked how the Louisville Metro Police Department and U of L Police can coordinate better in response to crime, Fischer said it all starts with who patrols the public space where the incident occurred. He also discussed several programs he and the city of Louisville have initiated to address violence in the downtown area.
“There are so many youth programs that offer invaluable resources to kids growing up on the streets,” Fischer said. “Groups such as REimage and Right Turn specifically target kids who have history of crime on their records, and allow them to finish school and apply to college in the hopes that it will break the cycle of violence they have become so used to.”
While there is no clear way to stop all the incidents hitting the Louisville area, Fischer remains optimistic that programs such as REimage and Right Turn can make a difference. To him, the root of the problem lies in education. And the only way to enact change is to build up the communities that don’t offer enough schooling.
“The problem of crime is going to be something that every city has to deal with,” Fischer said. “However, we can do more when it comes to proper policing and school funding. This country spent billions of dollars on the war on terror, but isn’t doing enough to fight the terror that’s happening out on the streets every single day.”
The next Yearlings Club discussion will be on Oct. 16, and includes a panel of attorneys speaking on the judicial system and its treatment of black residents in civil and criminal cases.