WKYT investigation | Lexington Police Chief speaks against wave of violence
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – The city of Lexington remains on track to beat last year’s record number of homicides.
So far this year, 24 people have been killed in homicides in the city, according to the police department’s public list. At this point last year, it was 19, on the way to 34 people in total.
Shootings – fatal and non-fatal – have taken place with some frequency this summer. Last weekend, seven people were injured in three separate shootings within 24 hours. Five people were injured in just one of these shootings.
In an interview at Police Headquarters on Friday morning, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers reiterated Garrett Wymer of WKYT that the vast majority of crimes like this are not random. The people involved know each other in some way, have already had a relationship or been involved in some sort of incident that led to it.
Yet more than half of Lexington’s homicide investigations from 2021 are still open.
Chief Weathers said witnesses and victims are starting to talk more, helping investigators solve crimes, but they also need more cooperation to prevent them.
“Every little bit counts,” he said. “Sometimes it’s like putting a puzzle together: every little piece has a purpose, and we try to connect them. It’s getting better, but we want it to be a lot better. And we need people to call when something is happening, but we also need people to call before something happens. “
[MORE: ‘A lot of the homicides we see are personal’: Lexington police chief addresses city’s gun violence]
He said, often, that there was rumbling in the community – or even on social media – ahead of time. Sharing anonymous ox tips beforehand could allow other community partners to get involved and prevent shots being fired.
Chief Weathers said he believes the city is making progress in its fight against gun violence.
“We didn’t get here overnight. We’re not going to clean it up overnight, we’re not going to improve it overnight, ”he said. “Speaking of systemic issues and things like that, these things happen over time. To back up these things and reverse some of the things that are happening, it’s going to take time. “
Chief Weathers said that despite the welcoming atmosphere of a small town, Lexington is not a small town and some of the crimes could be considered “growing pains” as mentioned by Mayor Linda Gorton in a recent interview on Kentucky Newsmakers with Bill Bryant.
The police department has dozens of vacant officer positions. Chief Weathers said they could bring in other offices to temporarily cover patrols if needed, but they were also increasing hiring.
“If you want to see things change for the better, be a part of it,” he said. “Come work for us. Come and police this town.
Yet Chief Weathers says the answer is not just a stronger police presence, but the coming together of all community partners. This includes government, schools, churches, neighborhoods, and parents.
Six of Lexington’s 24 homicide victims in 2021 were 18 or younger.
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