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FBI sending more agents to Louisville, Kentucky, to tackle violent crime, gangs

The federal agents will join Louisville police as part of the Safe Streets Task Force, an initiative targeting violent criminals.
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The shadow of Louisville police officers arresting a demonstrator is seen on a wall on Sept. 23 in Louisville, Kentucky.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images file

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is dispatching more agents to Louisville, Kentucky, in an effort to crack down on gangs and violent crime.

The additional federal resources are part of the Safe Streets Task Force, an ongoing initiative with the Louisville Metro Police Department that targets violent criminals.

The FBI is responding to a spike in violent crime in the city, Louisville-based FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Jones said. Violent crime was up about 34 percent in Louisville from January through April — the most recent period for which data is available — compared with the same time last year. The city is in danger of breaking its homicide record for the second consecutive year.

Though he declined to say how many agents are being sent to Louisville, Jones said the addition will be a “significant complement” to efforts to rein in violent groups and gang members. The agents will have a limited area of investigation, Jones said.

“Our part is to look at federal violations,” such as federal gun trafficking allegations and gun charges, he said. “[But] we’re trying our best to do our part to see if we can have an impact on violent crime.”

Among other things, Jones said there are plans for agents to work with local authorities on investigating carjackings and robberies. There will also be instances when agents investigate homicides, Jones said.

For example, federal charges can be brought in drug-related homicides and in cases where felons use firearms.

Louisville reported 125 homicides as of Aug. 15, nearly 65 percent of which have gone unsolved. The police department is short about 240 police officers, and officials say officers are investigating twice the number of homicides as they should.

“We just want to … reduce the violence in the city,” Jones said.

Louisville activist Christopher 2X said he’s waiting to see if bringing more federal agents will lead to less crime.

“It can’t hurt, trying to bring in more resources. There is no total guarantee because of the magnitude,” of crime and shootings in Louisville,” he said. “People are calling for whatever tools are available and can be brought to the table to stop the bleeding. Anything is better than nothing.”

Carl Fels, whose 26-year-old son was gunned down earlier this year in a case that remains unsolved, said he’s grateful for the additional FBI manpower, but only if the agents make their presence felt.

“I think it’s going to help if they make it known that they’re here and people can see them,” Fels, 61, said. “I’m glad that they're here. The killing is just getting so bad.”

The task force's recovery of 17 weapons — including assault rifles, handguns and shotguns — ammunition and 1,200 grams of suspected controlled substances led to a federal indictment last week against four men on several charges.