Crime in Louisville down overall as homicides increase 20 percent during first six months of 2017, officials say

08/01/2017 02:07 PM

Despite an uptick that puts the city on pace to break last year’s record-setting homicide rate, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad say the city’s overall crime rate is trending downward in the first six months of 2017.

Data released by the Louisville Metro Police Department Tuesday show that crime decreased by about 4 percent compared to the first six months of 2016, with violent crime down more than 5 percent and property crime down nearly 4 percent.

However, LMPD-investigated homicide cases increased by 20 percent with 66 murders reported through the first six months of this year, up by 11 compared to the same time period last year.

Fischer called the growing number of murders in the city this year “tragic and unacceptable.”

“It’s something that we’re going to continue to work as hard as humanly possible to address,” he said during a news conference, noting . “All of our citizens deserve to live in neighborhoods where they can be free of any type of crime.”

However, Fischer said in many cases violent deaths “are not random” and involve those connected with criminal activity.

“Most of the time homicides are taking place with folks that have criminal history, but there are heartbreaking exceptions to that that we’ve seen over the years with (16-month-old) Ne’Riah Miller, (7-year-old) Dequante Hobbs,” he said.

Fischer said last year, LMPD officer confiscated 1,700 guns during investigations, and although homicides generally and fatal shootings particularly are on the rise, Conrad said the number of non-lethal shootings have actually dropped compared to the first six months of 2016.

“As of yesterday, non-fatal shootings are down over 18 percent as compared to this point last year,” Conrad said. “In just over half of the major cities that reporter non-fatal gunshot information, over half of those cities saw an increase. It is at least a step in the right direction.”

Conrad said that crime has dropped in all eight patrol divisions in LMPD. Of those, four have seen more deadly crimes compared to the first half of 2016 — seven more in the First Division that covers downtown Louisville and the Portland, Russell and Phoenix Hill neighborhoods, six more in the Second Division that covers the Shawnee, Chickasaw and Park DuValle neighborhoods, three more in the Eighth Division that includes Middletown, Lyndon, Oxmoor and the area around the Ford plant, and two more in the Third Division that covers Iroquois Park, Pleasure Ridge Park, Valley Station and Fairdale.

Fischer singled out opioid addiction – and the black market that surrounds illicit drug use – as a major contributor to property and violent crimes.

He said overdoses represent about twice as many deaths in Louisville compared to homicides. Last year, Jefferson County reported 364 overdose deaths, and 122 of those involved heroin and 186 involved fentanyl, an opiate medication up to 50 times more potent that heroin, state statistics show.

Louisville is on pace to exceed that number this year. Fischer said fatal overdoses have jumped 11 percent so far in 2017.

“We don’t have the medical reports yet in on all these deaths, but if it’s like last year, we believe over half of these deaths will be related to opioids,” he said.

Tuesday’s news conference coincides with National Night Out, a nationwide effort to foster relationships between communities and officers who police them.

The crime figures also precede an expected vote on a no-confidence resolution against Conrad’s leadership by Louisville Metro Council.

Fischer declined to say whether he lobbied councilmembers to support Conrad, but he said crime data for the first half of 2017 show “we need to work together to make our city a safer place.”

“To point fingers, to act like there’s a simplistic solution to something as complicated as crime is not a responsible step to take for the overall safety of the city,” he said.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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