Op-Ed

Violence in Lexington’s East End: ‘Where are our leaders ... when we need them the most?’

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

A recent “spate” of murders has focused media attention on the east/north sides of downtown with 10 murders committed in the four months of 2019. If you follow those murders by location, nine out of 10, or 90 percent, have happened in the 1st District and three of those nine, or one-third, have happened within one month of each other in the East End (all on Race Street). Though that may not seem unique to some, it certainly is quite disturbing to those who live nearby.

Unfortunately, this murder trend is not unique to 2019 (or the first four months) because the numbers have indeed increased since 2016 with comparative numbers of murders in Lexington: 22 in 2018, 28 in 2017 and 25 in 2016. Though these high numbers of murders did occur across Lexington, of the total 85 murders over the past three years and four months, 29, or 34 percent, of them have been in the 1st District and 13, or 45 percent, of those have happened in the East End. Perhaps that is acceptable to our elected leaders but it should not be acceptable to anyone who claims to care about this neighborhood or larger community.

The 1st District actually has three of the five CLEAR units (community policing), with one being in the East End, that provide additional officers and resources. Many residents know these officers by face or name and likewise officers know their residents (good, bad and ugly). Yes, that focused effort does make a difference, but the police alone cannot fight the drug epidemic and accompanying crime by themselves. Neither can the residents lift up their own neighborhood without strong leadership.

Great relations have been established between the police and residents because of mutual and intentional efforts. Residents have been encouraged to call police and they see/hear something and they have been aware of what suspicious persons/behaviors to report – residents do call and police do respond.

There is a very active neighborhood association that meets monthly and plans many events/activities, a community development corporation that monitors economic development, and an advocacy group that raises awareness about gun violence. What is missing in this picture? Our elected leaders who talk about the issues but rarely show up for neighborhood meetings, events or activities – nor are they seen walking our streets where the serious issues exist and residents live in fear. We have followed the facts and numbers and we pay attention to who shows up for or not – so where are our leaders when and where we need them most?

Billie Mallory, East End Community Development Corporation

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