KPD responds to recent surge in violent crime; safe space for Knoxville’s at-risk youth in the works

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The past 11 days have been rough on the Knoxville Police Department. Right now, their main focus is solving murders and slowing the crime rate.

According to the Knoxville police department, violent crime is up. Since Sept. 10, there have been six homicides in Knoxville; none of them have been solved.

In September 2019, there had been 16 homicides for the whole year. This year, there have been 28 so far.

KPD’s communications manager, Scott Erland says the exact cause of the surge is hard to pinpoint, but it will take help from the community to get these crimes solved.

“It’s rare that a crime is solved without a witness or somebody who speaks on behalf and says we’re not going to tolerate this either. We can come and we can respond to these crimes and if we don’t have the community, these witnesses that know what happened speak up, then we’re gonna be spinning our wheels,” Erland said.

East Knoxville residents are fed up. Lawrence Williams is a lifelong resident. He says people in the community need to start speaking out against the violence.

“If we want to see change, we got to work together and we got to speak out on this violence. We gotta really speak out on it because if we’re not speaking out on it, it’s going to continue to happen,” Williams said.

Anyone with information on a recent murder is urged to report it to KPD by phone or email:

  • 865-215-7212
  • unsolvedmurder@knoxvilletn.gov

Safe Haven Empowerment Center

Lawrence Williams has been living in East Knoxville his whole life. He regularly advocates for his community and speaks out against violent crime. His latest passion project is creating a safe space for Knoxville’s at-risk youth.

Located at 3010 Magnolia Ave., the house will serve as a space for youth between the ages of 10 and 19. Williams is planning for it to be a meeting spot where he can mentor Knoxville’s youth and teach them life skills, but he says it will also be a fun place to relax.

There’s already a TV, dart board and wifi. He’s adding a pool table, gaming system, and is turning one of the rooms into a computer lab. Kids and teens will be able to come at anytime to do homework or apply for jobs. There is a fully operating kitchen that he plans to use to serve hot meals every day.

“A lot of our kids get caught up in these streets and stuff and don’t have anything to do. So therefore we’re going to give them something to do. It’s not much, but it’s something. And also we’ll have mentors in here that will love on them and let them know that there’s a better way.” Williams said.

The house also has an upstairs apartment. Williams says he’s planning to put beds in for nights when a young person may not have a place to stay.

This is something Williams has been working on for some time now. He says this is his way of giving back to the community that gave so much to him in his younger years.

The Safe Haven Empowerment Center is expected to open the first week in October.

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