Louisville, Kentucky, is in danger of breaking its homicide record for a second consecutive year, and the 125 body count includes a majority of unsolved cases, amid defund the police political movements and anti-police sentiment, NBC News reported Sunday.
"The pace at which we're seeing these shootings is absolutely unacceptable," Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields said in a new department podcast called "On the Record," which began in June.
"How do you stop these shootings? They have to stop. Our ground-level tactical units are getting far more engaged. They are identifying repeat violent offenders, and you're going off after them and their network of associates. You're not randomly just hoping that you get the right people. It's a very deliberate effort, and the results are rolling in."
Still, just 34% of Louisville's homicides are solved to date, falling far short of the 61.4% national average, according to the FBI. The portion of unsolved killings (65%) is also rising, as just 39% killings were unsolved just three years ago, according to the report.
Among the reasons for the deadly violence, according to local law enforcement:
- Shrinking police force.
- Officers concerned about scrutiny, liability protection.
- Easy access to guns.
Democrats tend to blame guns, and Louisville Democrat Mayor Greg Fischer went there, too.
"Anyone can walk down the street with an assault rifle," Fischer told NBC News. "Guns are everywhere."
This all comes as the Biden Justice Department is investigating the LMPD from the Breona Taylor case for "pattern or practice of violations of the Constitution or federal law." Taylor was struck by a stray bullet during the execution of a warrant. The DOJ probe was announced in April.
Morale is down, staff is short, and violence is up.
"There's no trust at some level, and when there's no trust, you can't get things accomplished in a collaborative way," Louisville activist Christopher 2X told NBC News. "Most people don't want to participate in any way or be connected to a violent crime through a judicial process."
People are not cooperating with police investigations for "fear of retaliation" on the violent streets, according to Shields.
"We're in a space now, where a number of individuals, even if they will speak with the police, they don't want to go on record for fear of retaliation," she said. "So, that's the space that we're in.
"We're also struggling with staffing. You know, in a perfect world, I would assign 10 more people to the homicide unit. I just don't have those folks."
The police staff has been cut from 1,247 during the height of the Trump administration to just 1,048 currently, forcing homicide units to have double the cases from four to five a year to eight to 10.
"It's very difficult when you’re catching a homicide case every two weeks," Lt. Donny Burbrink, LMPD homicide unit commander said during an LMPD podcast episode. "We're having a very difficult time right now. If I pick up a homicide today, at the rate we're on right now, in two weeks I'll pick up another homicide."
Marcus Collins' 17-year-old stepson, LaMaurie Gathings, was shot and killed June 4 after having sneaked out of the house after 2 a.m.
"I still haven't heard nothing," Collins, 43, told NBC News. "I haven't heard anything about what happened or from the detective at all. It's been a month.
"The police aren't doing a good job investigating," Collins added, noting officers have told the family they do not have enough resources to adequately investigate.
Also, anti-police sentiment raging in Democrat-run cities has led to morale declines, according to Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director Shawn Butler.
"I think low morale is an occupational hazard," he told NBC News. "You aren't going to do your job as effective
"It doesn't help when we've had the civil unrest that we've had."
The Brookings Institution's Howard Henderson also pointed to morale.
"It's bad for the system to have officers with low morale," he told NBC News. "The lower the morale, the worse the job performance. The question really needs to be why is morale low? Is it that morale is low because people are being held accountable for the first time? Morale might be low for a good reason."
Despite calls for defunding the police, the rise in violence stemming from that movement has led to the Louisville budget bumping gun violence prevention funding from $5 million to $19 million, according to NBC News.
"Living in Louisville is terrible," Delisa Love, 44, whose daughter, 19, was killed hours before Mother's Day in an unsolved homicide. "I've never seen so much violence."
Among the new spending initiatives:
- $3 million for technology, staffing, and training for police.
- $3 million for social services like homelessness, mental health, or substance abuse in "deflection" program.
- $500,000 for prison education to reduce recidivism, criminals returning to prison.
- $600,000 for "reconciliation" program to improve police-community interaction.
"Things have gotten terrible," said Carl Fels, 61, whose 26-year-old son was shot and killed attempting to break up a hotel fight, another unsolved homicide. "I don't know what to say about it. I know people have gotten sick and tired of all this killing.
"They aren't doing anything," he added. "People are scared to come out their houses not knowing what's going to happen."
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