LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The city of Lexington has taken several steps to address issues and concerns related to public safety and Lexington police.
These steps include improving safety downtown, implementing flock license plate readers, One Lexington, Bluegrass Crime Stoppers, and recruiting and retention bonuses.
Police Chief Lawrence Weathers says safety improvements have been made downtown, specifically in the Tandy Park area. Extra officers and Sheriff’s deputies have been assigned downtown. The city is considering reducing the hours of Tandy Park.
The city's 25 flock license plate readers are in place.
"With 25 cameras, since March we have recovered over $1.1 million in stolen vehicles and charged 116 people with crimes," said Mayor Gorton.
The flock pilot project is a year long, and if the project is successful, ultimately Lexington will have 100 cameras. Learn more about the impact of Lexington's license plate reader cameras.
Gorton says the city has seen a decrease in gun-related homicides and shootings.
“That’s progress being made by One Lexington violence prevention program and its community partners," said Gorton. “So far this year, our homicide numbers are unfortunately up, while among young people ages 13-29, we have seen a 55% decrease in gun-related homicides, and a 12% decrease in shootings."
But these numbers reveal an increase in homicides that are domestic violence or related to domestic violence, according to Gorton.
Bluegrass Crime Stoppers started offering more in cash rewards which has resulted in an increase in tips According to the city, one tip led to the arrest of a person charged with a homicide on Charles Avenue while other tips have led to the arrests of three “Most Wanted Persons.”
Lexington is experiencing a challenge in recruiting and retraining police officers. As part of the FY 2023 budget, the Council approved $5 million in recruitment and retention pay got public safety employees. Council will soon be asked to approve retention bonuses for sworn employees in Corrections and Police, as well as for employees in E-911. Recruitment bonuses will also be established in these divisions to support hiring.