LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – City leaders said the rise in violent crime is something Lexington has never experienced before. They are pointing to a rising rate of violence that is being experienced across the country.
“The police can’t be on every square foot of Fayette County at every moment,” Mayor Linda Gorton said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Gorton acknowledged domestic violence homicides in Lexington are up 1,100% from last year and represent a third of Lexington’s overall homicides.
“We have raised police salaries, we continue to work to compete with the departments around us, we continue to seek remedies to improve recruitment and retention,” Gorton said.
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“How many more shootings and retaliations are we going to have experience before she will acknowledge that what’s she’s doing right now isn’t working,” Lexington Mayoral Candidate David Kloiber said on social media in response to the conference and argued the message was more of the same. Mayor Gorton said the city’s “One Lexington” program is making a difference with fewer homicide victims between ages 13 and 29, but the change won’t happen overnight.
“Lexington has never really seen this level of it, so we’re still building our infrastructure. A lot of things other cities are doing, when they hear about what we’re doing they said ‘okay, you all are on the right track’ but they’ve had years of the level of violence to build that infrastructure. We’ve never had that,” One Lexington Director Devine Carama said.
“I think it would be a vast oversimplification to say that any single factor ever explains crime and violent crime,” Ames Grawert with the Brennan Center for Justice said.
Grawert said 2020 brought a 30% climb in homicides nationwide. The pandemic and resulting economic instability has created a perfect storm without an easy way out.
“One of the reasons we started to see crime decline after the early 1990s was rising economic conditions and another reason was new strategies for dealing with crime or violent crime. We sort of need to do both this time around, Grawert said.
Grawert said the key to that is not rushing into what could be tempting easy solutions and this is the type of problem that will need leaders to think outside the box to effectively make a difference.