Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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September 23, 2021 5:01pm

From the Desk of the CEO 9/23/21

We join our community in grieving the tragic and senseless murder of JCPS student, Tyree Smith, who was killed waiting at his bus stop on Wednesday. Tyree was an Eastern High School student with a bright future that was taken far too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tyree’s family as they grieve this unimaginable loss.

As we mourn and remember Tyree and all those who have been lost to violence, our focus must remain on ensuring we do not see more of these tragedies in our community. We implore authorities to pursue justice for Tyree, but the unfortunate reality is his murder is part of a concerning trend we have seen grow in the last several years in Greater Louisville.

Violent crimes are rising in prevalence throughout our community. These incidents are infiltrating almost every zip code and every part of Louisville. This year alone we have lost 21 juveniles in homicides, and 82 have been wounded in shootings. Every day there are new stories about shootings, carjackings, and robberies. We must avoid the temptation to become numb to the trauma happening in our community and instead advocate for aggressive action to stop senseless violence.

We need people to feel safe living in Louisville. We need people to feel safe visiting Louisville. And we need people to feel safe doing business in Louisville. Failure to quickly address this rise in violence will have major implications on our community. Not only does a soaring crime rate deter talent from moving to Greater Louisville, but it also wards off prospective businesses looking to invest in our region. That means less opportunities, jobs, and investment that could help members of our community stay off the path towards violence.

So where do we go from here?

We must continue to support violence intervention strategies to eradicate the underlying problems that lead individuals to commit violent crimes. We are continuing to advocate for investment in these community programs and we support the work of the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy that was rolled out last year.

GVI is a hands-on program that convenes violence prevention experts regularly to review and monitor incidents and trends in local violent crimes. From that careful review, they identify individuals within the community who are involved in dangerous group and street activities that put them at an elevated risk of committing violent crimes. The coalition of community groups then engages the individual through direct conversations about likely consequences of their current path and offer them the opportunity to move forward in a new direction without the fear of repercussions by providing resources to help safely access new opportunities and move into a more meaningful direction in life. GVI is a proven method that is effective because it targets and provides hope to those most intimately involved in activities that lead to violence. The GVI approach has been successfully implemented in cities of varying sizes across the U.S. with positive results including a 41 percent decrease in group-involved homicides in Cincinnati.

There are a number of city and private programs that are on the ground and working to engage with those at risk of getting involved in group violence through mentorships and constructive programming. Moreover, we cannot understate the direct correlation between crime and poverty.  I encourage you to engage with and invest in these programs that are continuing to make a difference in countless lives by addressing precipitating factors that lead many to violence.

In addition, GLI is in communication with city officials and law enforcement to ensure they know public safety is a top priority for the business community. This is a widespread problem that demands a comprehensive strategy and we are prepared to lean-in and do our part to support these efforts. As the voice of the business community, we are prepared to work with elected leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to advocate for the programming and funding that will be most effective in restoring a sense of safety in our community. I ask each of you to join us in your support for these programs and initiatives. Rebuilding a sense of safety will take time and tremendous effort, but it is critical to the overall well-being of our community.

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom is the president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc.