LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Preventing crime takes a community-wide effort; it's a message shared by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer who announced overall crime is down throughout the Derby City, with one exception.
"We still struggle with an increase in homicides. They are still a significant challenge," Mayor Greg Fischer said.
Mayor Fischer and Police Chief Steve Conrad releasing crime data for the first six months of 2017 and comparing them to the first half of 2016. Overall, burglaries and thefts are down nearly 4 percent. Violent crimes overall, including assaults, rapes and robberies, are down by 5 percent. However, the number of homicides is up 20 percent, the mayor believes, from drug use.
"More and more opioids are on the street. Addiction takes place, the illegal economy associated with this is one of the contributing factors to both property crime and violent crime," Mayor Fischer said.
The mayor credits the creation of the 9th mobile division and the removal of nearly 1,700 guns last year as a reason for reduced crime, but he says police can't do it alone. Chief Conrad says non-deadly shootings are down but calls it an anomaly that more deaths are resulting from fewer shootings.
"That can come from a number of different factors. More shots being fired, more people firing shots at the same victim," Chief Conrad said.
Manpower at LMPD is at an all-time high with nearly 1,300 officers. Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith applauds the city's efforts, but believes the responsibility falls on everyone.
"Whether it's communities, neighborhoods, businesses, healthcare facilities, (they) can all work together to put programs in place to be proactive," she told WHAS11.
Having a safer place to live and work is the goal as city leaders attempt to crack down on those who choose violence over peace.
"The unfortunate reality is there are just some folks that choose violence crime as a way of doing business and our job is to get them off the street," Mayor Fischer said.
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The mayor says the driving force behind that is the use of opioids and other drugs that are on the city's streets. He says while murders make the headlines, the overdose rate is nearly double that of the homicide rate and more than half of shooting deaths in 2017 may be related to drugs.
He and Chief Conrad are pushing for more of a community response to reverse the trend of an increase in deadly shootings, which he says is also happening across other major US cities.
While more people have died from gun violence so far this year than in 2016, the number of non-deadly shootings is down from 214 in 2016 to 175 so far from 2017.
“While these numbers are absolutely no consolation to someone who has lost a loved one to a homicide, whether in Louisville or one of these other cities, it does I believe, demonstrate and help us understand that this is an epidemic that is not confined to any one city. This is not just a Louisville problem,” Chief Steve Conrad, with Louisville Metro Police Department, said.