LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Strong words were spoken by Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers, as he and other city leaders try to find a way to cut down on violence that is claiming the lives of Lexington teens. Mayor Linda Gorton says 6 teens have died in Lexington since April in shootings.
"Mentoring, teaching, directing, and leading can make a difference and the difference we're looking for here, make no mistake, it's life or death," Police Chief Weathers said.
During a press conference Thursday morning, Chief Weathers said it's going to take the entire community listening and being present for the youth to fix the issues among the young people in the area.
Lexington leaders stood together, issuing a call to action for the community to do its part. Chief Weathers said while he can't say there is one specific cause for the spike in teen-involved shootings, COVID-19 has limited their community outreach programs to kids in need. So, he's asking for other resources step up to offset that.
"Our youth are telling us something. To me, they're telling me, that they're looking for direction," Chief Weathers said. "They're struggling and they are hurting. We need to honor them by listening, by listening to them and helping them find the path that's right for them."
An example of doing their part is Assistant Fayette County Attorney Heather Matics, who, along with other community leaders, is forming a juvenile treatment court to help kids to deal with their mental health.
"The idea is, instead of looking at these children and saying 'you're breaking the law' and reinforcing society's message that they have no use for them, we are looking to set them up with services to help them acknowledge that trauma that leave a lasting impact, can cause you to need mental health services and there's nothing to be ashamed of," Matics said.
Officials acknowledged it's going to take more than programs to fix the issues, but said they are trying to head in the right direction.