LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has unveiled a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes hiring new officers to improve relationships between the police department and community members.
The mayor detailed the plan Tuesday, which includes funds to hire a new sergeant and five neighborhood resource officers in the Lexington Police Department.
"Neighborhood resource officers soon become fixtures in the neighborhood," she said. "Well known to everyone and well aware of neighbor's issues and concerns, thereby improving their relationship with the community."
The budget plan also includes a full-time staff member with the goal of implementing the recommendations of the Commission for Racial Justice and Equality, formed over the summer following local and national protests against police brutality.
"This is a budget for everybody," Mayor Gorton said.
Building relationships in communities is critical to create trust, said Michael Overstreet, Mentor Recruiter for Amachi Central Kentucky.
He works daily to support the next generation of Lexington leaders through the mentoring program, which helps children between the ages of 6 and 16 who've been affected by parental incarceration.
"One of the biggest solutions is talking to the people who are already on the ground, have already spent time developing deep relationships with the communities that are hurting the most," he said.
He said that he knows mentoring programs work because he had a mentor as a teenager.
"I grew up in an area very similar to the kids that we work with here in Lexington and saw a lot of hard things and experienced a lot of hard things myself," he said, "But because I had a mentor on a consistent basis who was pouring into me, helped me have access to opportunities that I didn't see within my own circumstances.
He said that building trust takes time, but it can make a big difference.
"That helps with building towards those positive relationships that are really needed to help just overcome some of the things that we've experienced," he said