LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lexington leaders including Mayor Linda Gorton, Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and Devine Carama of One Lexington came together Wednesday night for a safety forum. The panel discussed the increased violence in downtown Lexington and ways the community can work together to help keep Lexington safe.
The community spoke candidly about the increased violence.
One community member says, “if we can get a program started to where we can educate our kids and show them that there is actually people that they can come and talk to and trust, you know that’ll stop a whole lot of it because it’ll give them some time to work and show them that they are appreciated here in town.”
Gorton says the increase of violence is not unique to Lexington because cities are struggling with this across the country. The leaders say people were locked in their houses for 15 months, which is one reason why people are flooding the streets again, playing a part in the violence surge.
“We’re talking about people downtown as if they’re animals and I want you to understand that these are human beings that you know- that a lot of us know nothing about,” says Carama.
“I wanna save our children, these are our babies. This is our future coming up, you know?” says a concerned community member. “And we wanna guide them and show them the right way. I don’t wanna go and see them in a casket at church or on a slab at a funeral home. I’m tired of that.”
The leaders say not only is the police department incorporating more work with mental health professionals and social workers, but they are looking at bringing back programs similar to Micro-City Government, a program designed to help teach life skills and trades to young people.
“It was a whole generation of kids that was raised by other kids and we didn’t have the generational gaps,” says a community member who was a part of the Micro-City program. “And you know what else happened? People got dollars in their pockets and that’s more important than it all.”
The leaders at the forum say they want to find a long-term solution to the problem and not use a quick fix. Gorton says this conversation was just the start of a longer discussion that needs to be had, but she is hopeful everyone will be able to work together to prevent this violence.