LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Lexington leaders believe the city is safer than it was a year ago. But admit it, there is still a lot of work to do.
A gun violence task force met to discuss what’s impacting the crime rate and what can be done to bring it down further. Mental health, domestic violence, and peer support groups were key issues at the forefront of Thursday’s roundtable talk.
Even with fewer homicides, the group said there are disturbing attitudes about gun violence, especially among young people.
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Many wonder what needs to be done in the community and in schools to confront the problem.
“We are working with the schools, but it is a big challenge to get the individuals and probably have the largest impact in those schools,” One Lexington’s Larry Johnson said.
One suggestion is to send trusted community members into Fayette County schools to work directly with students on ways to avoid conflict — people who have had firsthand experience with violence.
“You’re filling out the background check and all of that stuff, and we understand that some of those who have lived experiences are not going to pass that background check, and I get that, but could it be that if it’s not one-on-one contact but it is in a group setting, that is allowed?” Judge Melissa Moore suggested
City council members suggested hiring an organization to help vet mentors in schools, saying a person shouldn’t be automatically rejected for a bad past if they can encourage a bright future.
“A letter can be written and reviewed to determine whether that person or that institution at school feels that they can trust them, and that might be important because we don’t want to fail to consider the danger or harm we might put our young people in,” Johnson said.
The task force also presented a need for more mental health facilities for young people.
“We need more places that are respite, places that can be staffed by medical facilities, medical professionals, and social workers,” Judge Moore said.
Community members were invited to offer advice on violence prevention.
Coroner Gary Ginn needs to be here, and the medical state examiner needs to be here, to tell children what really happens when their bodies are riddled with bullets,” a community member at the meeting suggested.
Leaders are determined to get to the root of the problem. The next roundtable is on Oct. 19.