LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There is criticism on how fast it is taking to stop gun violence in Louisville. The "Group Violence Intervention" (GVI) approach to curbing the homicides has been underway for months, but some people, including Metro Council members, questioned the pace of the progress Wednesday.
What You Need To Know
- "Group Violence Intervention" (GVI) is an approach to curbing crime being implemented in Louisville
- On Wednesday, however, some Metro Council members questioned the pace at which it's taking to make progress
- Some of those involved blame city leadership, claiming the process is being politicized and slowed
- Mayor Greg Fischer's office has responded to criticism, saying the GVI team is "making progress"
GVI is geared toward those few people in the community who are doing the most damage. It's an approach that's been proven successful in other cities across the country. That's why it's been underway in Louisville for months. On Wednesday, those involved testified to Metro Council members. The Mayor's Strategic Operations Officer Keith Talley told members they've been meeting with those responsible for the gun violence, giving them "notifications" since April.
That's how the strategy works. Community leaders like ministers and police notify those doing the most harm that they will face hard consequences unless they quit the crime. Then, the perpetrators are offered help and resources to be able to live a life without violence.
In a "call in" meeting, gun violence survivors meet face to face with the people committing the violence and appeal to them to change their ways.
Members of the council's Public Safety Committee heard Wednesday that "notifications" have happened. However, there's been no "call in." Members are looking for more communication, Councilman Anthony Piagentini, R-District 19, argued.
Piagentini pointed to a GVI flow chart online and told Talley he's been implementing the approach out of order.
He said the step missing is to "bring the hammer down on people and the associates of these people that perpetuate the group violence."
In Talley's update, he explained the social help they've been supplying people at risk of falling victim to violence. That involves relocating families and funding hotel stays, for instance.
"Every city takes that template...they start to do the work and they make that template work best for their community. Not every community has a Breonna Taylor case and relationship issues our community has with [Louisville Metro Police]," he argued.
Josh Crawford is the interim executive director of Pegasus Institute, who's studied GVI and Lousiville's violence trends extensively. He said the city's annual homicides have doubled since 2015.
"I think people's frustration is totally justified," Crawford said. "COVID-19 was obviously a complicating factor for a long period of time. So much of GVI involves in-person interactions with folks in terms of the 'notifications' and 'call-ins,' but we're in a stage now where we need to be progressing. We need to be progressing rapidly."
He feels city leaders have politicized the process, which has stalled the hope of saving lives.
"If everybody is rowing to the beat of their own drum, we won't get anywhere," Crawford added.
Meanwhile, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky Russell Coleman is heavily involved in the GVI rollout. "Let's get past these games," he told Spectrum News 1. "We need a sense of urgency from our leadership...we are bleeding out in Louisville."
Mayor Greg Fischer's office has responded to criticism of his leadership, writing: "The mayor is confident that the GVI team, initially slowed by the impact of COVID-19, is making progress, as part of our larger whole-of-government approach to reducing violent crime.
"The Louisville Metro Police Department, partners like the Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods, and our GVI program manager are reviewing shootings and performing 'custom notifications' of some of the parties involved to prevent retaliatory shootings and recidivism. And the team is on pace to soon begin its larger-scale 'notifications,' or 'call-ins,' to officially put offenders on notice of the criminal consequences if their actions continue. In fact, a recent status update letter from John Jay College’s National Network for Safe Communities noted that given the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, our city’s 'GVI messaging, interventions, and the provision of resources are comprehensive and effective,'" spokesperson Jean Porter wrote.