Strategies for combatting gun violence in Lexington

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Posted at 6:00 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 18:01:03-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Tuesday's homicide on New Circle Road marks Lexington's 11th gun-related homicide so far this year.

Gun violence is an issue many community members LEX18 has talked to are concerned about.

In the Primary Election Tuesday, several voters echoed that, saying it was top of mind at the polls.

"They're getting a hold of guns too easy," Fayette County voter, Jodene Hayden, said. "It's one of the biggest issues in this city to me."

Another voter said she wants leaders to focus more on our young people to curb the violence.

"If my candidate, the one that I selected, if they keep the younger generations, teenagers in mind and just help them, I would feel so complete," Fayette County voter, Emma Washington, said.

Gun violence is an issue Lexington is actively working to combat, but there are differing opinions on whether current strategies are working.

"We need change and we need it yesterday because people are suffering in our streets," Mayoral candidate David Kloiber said. "People are feeling unsafe."

He said he believes part of the solution is implementing a program called GVI, or Group Violence Intervention. It's a strategy that 'replaces enforcement with deterrence'.

"We need to have real solutions from people who have proven policies like GVI in order to address this problem head-on," Kloiber said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Linda Gorton said after talking with Chief Lawrence Weathers, ONE Lexington Director Devine Carama, and others, she believes Lexington should not implement GVI.

"A lot of cities use that, they've seen their homicides go up," she said. "If it's something that's working I'd like to implement it. I have not found that across the nation, so we are going to keep our Lexington-focused, not nationwide-focused, but Lexington-focused programs doing their work every single day."

Those Lexington-focused programs include ONE Lexington. She wants to build upon that and the City's relationships with community partners like UK trauma and social workers. She also said she put five more neighborhood resource officers in the current budget. Chief Lawrence Weathers said LPD is currently hiring for those positions.

"Communities that don't have this kind of broad approach are really missing out on some good ways to uplift our community and work on crime," Mayor Gorton said.

In Tuesday's primary Mayor Gorton received 71% of the vote versus Kloiber's 14%. She believes that's a direct response from voters that they approve of what she is doing to tackle this issue. The final judgment will come in November when the two face off in the general election.