Lexington city leaders talk to WKYT about downtown violence
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington city leaders are addressing concerns of violence, especially reported shootings, in downtown.
Mayor Linda Gorton and Police Chief Lawrence Weathers announced a series of changes Wednesday to enhance safety and patrols near the Fifth-Third Pavilion, including adding lighting around Tandy Park, changing up patrols, changing hours at Tandy Park, and even some businesses doing the same.
Calling it a top priority, Gorton is focusing on safety concerns of downtown.
“People need to know downtown is safe. I go downtown for things. Even after dark,” Gorton said.
But a series of incidents including shootings near downtown restaurants and bars has some people thinking otherwise.
“I’d say the crime down here, especially by the pavilion is pretty crazy. There’s been way too many shootings. There was one by Belle’s last month. There was one what, last week?” said Anthony Volk, who works in valet downtown.
Weathers sat down with WKYT for a taping of Kentucky Newsmakers where he talked about the violence, and the changes the city is implementing.
“We use police presence, which the sheriff is helping us with that. We also have an unbelievable amount of cooperation from the business owners. I don’t know if that happens in every city. But we should be proud of that,” Weathers said.
Last year Mayor Gorton started the downtown safety work group. It’s made of city leaders and business owners that addresses ongoing concerns and security.
“A lot of the things that they have talked about are lighting in the park, lighting in the pavilion, both of which we’re going to be doing. Numbers of police officers down there, we’ve actually increased the number who are down there, and we also have deputy sheriffs. And some of the bars on their own have started closing early,” Gorton said.
But opponents of the plan say the plans aren’t enough, and looking for businesses to close early should not be an option.
“Specifically with this proposal, I have concerns about the burden being placed on the businesses for their own protection. Asking them to shorten their hours or come out of pocket for more patrols from the sheriff’s office. That’s unacceptable,” mayoral candidate David Kloiber said.
Mayor Gorton said a lot of rumors, or inaccuracies, about the violence are leading to an unsafe reputation for the city and said she has been downtown after dark herself.
Kloiber feels the opposite, saying it is becoming less and less safe every day.
You can watch Bill’s full interview with Chief Weathers this Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET on WKYT.
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