One Lexington initiative still aiming at reducing violent crime amongst teens

The city’s One Lexington initiative aims to reduce violent crime amongst teenagers. While homicides are up, the number of young people killed is down.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The city’s One Lexington initiative aims to reduce violent crime amongst teenagers. While homicides are up this year in Lexington, the number of young people killed is down.

“He hadn’t even began life yet, like it’s heart breaking,” One Lexington Executive Director Devine Carama said.

Carama is thinking about Lexington’s latest homicide, which happened Saturday night along the 1300 block of Centre Parkway. Police are still looking for the person who shot and killed 19-year-old Demetrius Shelton Jr.

“We actually reached out to members of the family,” Carama said.

As One Lexington’s executive director, he’s been leading an effort to curb gun violence, targeting people ages 13 to 29. Carama said in the past three years, data shows more than half of all Lexington’s gun-related homicides in that age group. But he feels One Lexington’s enrichment programs are helping.

“Last year we had 16 gun-related homicides for youth and young adults, and this year we’ve had seven,” Carama said.

Mayor Linda Gorton’s office reports a 55% decrease in gun-related homicides among young people this year, as well as a 12% decrease in shootings. But numbers are showing an increase in homicides related to domestic violence.

Even though fatal shootings among young people are down, what happened Saturday night is a reminder that Carama’s work is far from over.

He said reducing those gun violence numbers will take a collective effort and is asking members of the community and community partners to jump on board.

“We need more hall monitors. We need more people to help walk these students home from school to disengage potential conflict,” Carama said.

In the meantime, he’s celebrating the wins of the One Lexington and seeing the difference it’s making in some young people’s lives.

“They saw a decrease in behavior referrals, an increase in academic performance,” Carama said.

People can contact Carama if they want to volunteer. You can find his contact info by clicking here.

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