Lexington candidates, former police chief react to recent gun violence

Lexington candidates, former police chief react to recent violence
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington’s former police chief is commenting on the city’s spike in gun violence.

We’re on track to break the homicide record set last year.

A shooting death over the weekend tied the count at 37. Now, Urban City Council District 4 candidates agree that crime is their number one concern.

“Never envisioned we would be dealing with gangs. That we would be dealing with middle schoolers carrying guns, or nonviolent middle schoolers feeling the need to have a gun because others do who are going to do them harm,” said J. “Brack” Marquette, a district 4 candidate.

Marquette and candidate Brenda Monarrez agree public safety is their number one concern. And the number one concern of most voters now, too.

“And along with that is youth engagement. But we also need to address the issue of domestic violence. Knowing that one-third of the crimes being committed, specifically the homicides, are as a result of domestic violence. And not just reacting to crime but putting efforts towards prevention, as well,” Monarrez said.

District 4, nestled between Tates Creek and Nicholasville Roads, was the site of a standoff between police and a suspect, resulting in in the death of the 40-year-old man, just this month. Marquette and Monarrez both emphasized a need for city partnerships with nonprofits.

“We need to be a bit patient because any efforts are going to take time. We need to be consistent. And we need to let those organizations do the work in order to see the benefits of that work,” Marquette said.

More than a dozen cases are still open this year, and Former Chief Anthany Beatty said this is an emotional time for the city.

“My wife and I both grew up here in the city of Lexington,” Beatty said.

Beatty has seen the city transition from a population of 50,000 people to one of 300,000. And he’s seen all of the complications that have come with the growth.

“Never in my career have I seen anything that impacts a community as significantly as this is right now. So going through my mind is a lot of emotions, a lot of thoughts about what’s happening to the community, how to we get through this, how do we make it better and how do we heal?” Beatty said.

Beatty became a police officer in the 70s. He saw the crime that the cocaine epidemic of the late 80s and 90s brought to Lexington. But he says that’s nothing compared to the gun violence the community sees today.

“What we did back when I was chief was nothing magical, we had a lot of community relations. More importantly, information came to us and we were able to solve crimes. I think this is a collaborative effort between police and the community. Good police community relations and proactive policing can eventually lead to a resolution of this,” Beatty said.

Beatty also acknowledges the officer shortage, from problems with recruiting officers, to problems with retaining them.

“Now we’ve got police officers coming lots of places, working in different communities. So they tend not to stay when times get tough, because they’re not from the community,” Beatty said.

Chief Lawrence Weathers told us last week the current officer shortage is around 80.

Beaty said there is a lack of trust in police and desire to become an officer, largely in part due to the civil unrest triggered by the murder of George Floyd in 2020.