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City leaders say community ambassadors helping with Highlands safety

The city is spending $1 million to expand its ambassador program to the Highlands. Ambassadors will pick up trash, interact with business owners and help visitors.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After several deadly shootings in the Highlands, city leaders are expanding a community-based plan to reduce violence. Mayor Greg Fischer said community ambassadors are working to make Bardstown Road a safer place. 

The city will spend $1 million in ARP funds to expand the program, which already exists through contractor "Block by Block," to the Highlands neighborhood and other places in Louisville.

Ambassadors do things like pick up trash and interact with bars and businesses. 

"The ambassadors also serve as eyes on the street, as a deterrent for unwanted behavior. Police are their partners in this as well," Mayor Fischer said.

"If there's a clean environment it sends a message that you need to be on your best behavior," he said.

RELATED: Woman hit by two vehicles on Bardstown Road dies at hospital

Councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D8) said she's already received emails from community members appreciating the presence of the ambassadors. 

"These ambassadors have already made such a difference on Bardstown Road and the sense of hope and investment that people feel," she said.

Mandy Bliss, with the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association, said the ambassadors aren't enough. 

"I'm not really sure what they'll do other than tidy up," she said.

Bliss said she's seen little done since the summer, other than new lights in a popular Highlands parking lot, to combat the violence. She said neighbors want to see more police and increased lighting along Bardstown Road from Highland Avenue to Grinstead Drive. 

"We can't necessarily complain about our neighborhood being ignored but it would be nice to eventually be on the list of priorities rather than just getting lip service and promises that are never filled," she said.

Fischer said in the last month LMPD has restructured staffing, putting more patrols in the Highlands on weekend nights. 

He said that will add to the efforts of the ambassadors to help bring peace to the Highlands and to its neighbors. 

Chambers Armstrong introduced another violence-prevention plan this summer that involved cutting back bar hours. After bars pushed back, she walked back that plan and met with those bars to come up with a new plan. 

One proposed element was utilizing ARP money to fund new ABC officers to target "bad actor" bars. Friday, Chambers Armstrong said Council is now looking at paying for that through general funds.

RELATED: Metro Council, bar owners announce new plan for late night safety

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