Mayor Fischer, other city leaders outline whole-of-government approach to public safety
Mayor: ‘Our city budget quadruples our investment in violence prevention and capacity-building programs’
Mayor Greg Fischer today joined LMPD Police Chief Erika Shields, Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods (OSHN) Director Dr. Monique Williams and Director of Emergency Services Jody Meiman to highlight Louisville Metro Government plans to reimagine public safety with an emphasis on the whole-of-government and whole-of-city approach.
“We as a government – and as a society – have to work together to create the conditions necessary for public safety in every neighborhood,” the Mayor said, adding that, “as was underscored in the protests we’ve seen in the wake of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many others,” police reform is a key step, necessary to build public trust.
And over the past several months, he said, the city has quickly responded with stringent measures including banning no-knock warrants, expanding rules on body cameras and an officer’s duty to intervene. In addition, an independent Civilian Review and Accountability Board is working to select the right candidate to lead the Office of Inspector General.
The Mayor noted that Chief Shields and her team are implementing recommendations from Hilliard Heintze’s top-to-bottom review of LMPD by taking a deeper dive into how to create equitable policing, which includes police training and how officers engage with the public.
Furthering those goals, the city’s $1.04 billion for FY22 includes $550,000 for the Group Violence Intervention initiative, launched late last year to divert people from the path of gun violence, incarceration and tragedy; as well as $500,000 for Reimage, a collaboration with KentuckianaWorks that is helping to break the cycle of incarceration and recidivism by connecting justice-involved youth to education, training and careers in key fields such as IT, manufacturing, construction and more; and $600,000 for a new “reconciliation” program to build on the city’s work to improve relationships between Louisville Metro Police and the larger community they are sworn to serve and protect.
Chief Shields detailed some of her plans to help attract and retain quality officers and addressed how the budget’s investments will enhance violence prevention efforts.
“Reducing gun violence is our No. 1 priority, and it is going to take all of us to do that,” the Chief said. “We are examining progressive response models in the interruption of the cycle of violence in at-risk populations. Once identified, we are engaging in community outreach with government partners, like OSHN, and facilitating better pathways and resources for these individuals.”
Violence Prevention and Capacity-building Programs
The Mayor noted that the budget also supports his goal of thinking broadly in creating a safe city with fewer arrests and less incarceration for non-violent offenses, including investments in deflection and diversion, as well as community mobilization, prevention, intervention, organizational change, and re-entry.
“Our city budget quadruples our investment in violence prevention and capacity-building programs from $5 million to $19 million – including critical work overseen by our Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods,” the Mayor said.
Dr. Williams said the upcoming budget will help address strategies for violence prevention and intervention, and some of the funding for OSHN will support strategic outreach with peer support and mentorship, job training, conflict mediation and relocation away from dangerous situations.
“We know from decades of research, that the most effective way to address this kind of violence is through a comprehensive community-based strategy that is based on a ‘whole of government’ approach,” said Dr. Williams. “That means providing resources to address critical social problems, like police-community relations, access to housing, access to gainful employment, food security, the built environment of certain communities, transportation, and healthcare – all things that fall under the prevention category.”
OSHN also plans to fund a community health development (CHD) approach that will assist violence prevention ambassadors in developing and implementing community-driven frameworks for violence prevention. The approach will entail partnership-building and assessment of current activities and existing resources.
“We need strategies that deal with policies, practices, and norms that create an environment that accepts or condones violence or inequity,” said Dr. Williams. “And we need a solid re-entry system that supports the needs of those coming out of the criminal justice system to lessen the likelihood of re-offending.”
Mayor Fischer noted that the FY22 budget also invests nearly $5 million in deflection and diversion programs, “recognizing that some situations are best served by a social service response, particularly when dealing with people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges or substance use.”
Director Meiman said those programs include a nurse triage effort within the city’s 911 center, and a pilot program still being developed by a partnership including the University of Louisville, Seven Counties Services and Spalding University.
In closing, the Mayor again thanked the Metro Council, President David James, Budget Chair Bill Hollander and Vice Chair Kevin Kramer for their partnership on the budget. He also said the success requires the combined efforts of social workers, nurses, community center staff, librarians, workforce trainers and police officers – along with business leaders, community activists, faith leaders and elected officials.
“We have the rare combination of will and resources to make unprecedented progress to address overlapping generational challenges of racial justice, equity and public safety,” the Mayor said. “Let’s work together to take advantage of this moment – to create the safe and equitable city we all deserve. That’s the goal we’re working toward every day at Metro Government.”