Lexington mayor’s office working to reboot, expand youth violence prevention programs

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 5:59 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As pandemic restrictions lift, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said now’s the time to focus on preventing youth violence.

“Community youth violence prevention looks like a whole lot of things that don’t involve law enforcement,” said Tyler Scott, the mayor’s chief of staff.

They can look like activities such as sports, after school programs and class. With their lives disrupted by the pandemic, Scott says young people have lost structure.

“We saw a lot of people who would normally receive a lot of hands-on mentoring and engagement really struggle through that,” Scott said.

The city is giving resources to community partners. They want programs back up and running before school’s out.

“Our job is to bring those really dedicated leaders out there, and organizations together to the table, to develop and troubleshoot, leverage what’s working where and how to build on it,” Scott said.

In 2020, five out of the 34 homicide victims were 18 or younger. Four of the suspects were juveniles. This year, three of the 10 homicide victims were 18 or younger.

“Every life, whether it’s a juvenile or an adult, is devastating to hear and deal with,” Scott said.

To try to solve the issue, the city is looking at adding more crime prevention programs that would build on current initiatives.

“Try to decrease the jail population,” Scott said.

Another point of emphasis was creating a hospital-based program for gunshot wound victims with UK Healthcare to intervene in the life of someone who’s been admitted to the emergency room for being on the receiving end of violent crime.

They are also investing $100,000 in the juvenile treatment court for mental health services, and more.

Mayor Gorton has said Lexington is a safe city.

“We saw a real hit to the safety and quality of life in our community,” Scott said.

She says with restrictions lifting, at-risk people can get the hands-on help they need again.

The city is sending out a request for information for crime prevention programs that would best serve the community. Leaders will collect responses until April 26.

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