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Wayward youths are going to a YMCA instead of jail

Sytisha Claycomb, a psychologist and public protection coordinator at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center, directs police to detain wayward youths short of full arrest by delivering them to a YMCA Safe Place on Crittenden Drive instead of taking them through the traditional detention process at Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center. Parents are then called to collect their children although the youths do not have to stay at the center. They are free to leave and return to the streets. That appears to be the current plan.

There is no evidence that residents in the area of the YMCA Safe Place are aware that youths detained for street crimes are then free to walk away from the center before their parent or guardian arrives to claim them.

Here is the Claycomb memo reprinted verbatim.

Flash Mob Violence

Problematic Locations:
➢ Waterfront Park
➢ Big Four Bridge
➢ 1st Street from Broadway to Market: includes gas stations and restaurants that are open at night.
➢ Broadway from 2nd – 30th
➢ Dixie Hwy from Broadway to Virginia
➢ 32 Street and Greenwood Avenue

➢ People walking alone or in small groups
➢ Restaurants such as: McDonald’s and White Castles
➢ Gas Stations
➢ Tarc Buses

➢ Violent and destructive activity tends to pick up at dusk and last until about 1am. We have had incidents in the West Broadway Corridor occur as early as 5pm in the afternoon.
➢ Activity has occurred on weekdays but seems to pick up heavily on the weekends
➢ We anticipate the activity increasing during Spring Break and Summer when kids are inactive

Flash Mobs have become popular over the years. We have had several large events over the past two years where kids use social media to select a spot to meet up and dance or socialize. These events drew large crowds and were problematic for traffic and impeded businesses but violence was never the purpose or the outcome.

Over the past few months, violence has been an issue that has left numerous law abiding citizens victimized, some with moderate to serious injuries.

The kids we are finding involved are as young as 11 years old out without purpose or supervision. Some groups involve upwards of 30 kids that otherwise may be decent but take on the personality and mentality of the leaders that have every intention of taking part in criminal activity.

The major concern is that someone is going to get killed during an incident. That someone could be a very young child that is involved.

Parents need to supervise their children when they are out in public. We are not equipped as law enforcement to incur the costs of doubling our night and weekend manpower allocations in order to take kids off the street and search for a parent or guardian to take responsibility for that child and their behavior. That is beyond the limitations of our current Criminal Justice System.

Our current system is set up for alternate methods of detention for young people. We typically do not incarcerate kids unless they are involved in felonious behavior. Those kids that are charged with felonies are taken to our Youth Detention Center.

Misdemeanor crimes that may include: vandalism, minor assaults and theft require a citation arrest and release to a parent/guardian. The alternative is to take them to a YMCA Safe Place at which they are allowed to leave if they so choose.

Needs/ Suggestions
➢ First and foremost we need parents to take the lead in monitoring their kids behaviors
➢ We need parents to keep young kids off the streets after 8pm voluntarily if they are not attending an organized event or working. This is the time that most Community Centers and Boys and Girls Clubs are closing and the climate in the streets begins to change.
➢ We need anyone with information on current or upcoming plans for this activity to call the anonymous tip line at 574-LMPD. Serious incidents in progress should be reported by calling 911. If you have information on subjects that are responsible for any of the criminal behavior or appear to be involved, please call the tip line as well.

➢ We need to create a place that officers can take kids where they will be detained and supervised by trained staff that can call parents and have them come to a secure location to get them. We cannot continue to have the issue falling solely on the hands of our officers. It is very labor intensive and time consuming.

LMPD Enforcement Plans
1. We will temporarily provide additional officers in the problematic locations to enhance the safety of our citizens
2. We will spread the word through the media and all other outlets to bring the situation to light in hopes of getting support in bringing the violence and destruction to an abrupt end
3. We will work with churches and other social organizations to encourage them to plan supervised activities especially during out of school times
4. We will seek guidance from our judicial partners to explore options in changing the way our system operates as well as the possibility of pursuing more stringent laws for youth violators and their parents/guardians


Events that occurred on Saturday, March 22, 2014

On March 22nd between 1945 and 2145 officers from the First Division mid-watch platoon, DAP & VIPER responded to numerous runs that involved a large group of early to late teen black males and females. These individuals began their path of lawlessness at the Big Four Bridge with numerous reports of fights and at least two strong-arm robberies.

The first incident involved a white male that was hospitalized after he was beaten and had his wallet stolen by numerous black males as he attempted to keep them from beating and taking a 13 year-old black female’s purse and phone.

As officers responded to this incident, more “trouble” & “fight” runs followed.

Officers were dispatched and dispersed crowds of 70-80 individuals from the White Castle at 1st & Market.

As officers were clearing the area at First and Market a crowd of black males attacked a woman and her family in their vehicle as she was stopped in traffic on Liberty at First St. They threw trash cans at her car, kicked it and punched her numerous times in the face as her frightened children watched. This woman was hospitalized with lacerations to her face and unknown head/neck injuries.

Several others from this group of individuals ran into Bader’s Market at First & Jefferson snatched items from the shelves and fled the store. An employee of Bader’s suffered minor injuries after he was struck several times as he attempted to close the entry doors.

As officers were tending to victims and dispersing the unruly crowd that had congregated on the lot of Bader’s and the area of First & Jefferson an unknown number of black males attacked a white male at Third & Chestnut on the sidewalk. The victim was struck numerous times about the head and was transported to the hospital.

This was quickly followed by an assault & robbery of a black male at 5th & Broadway by an unknown number of black males. This victim was transported by EMS to U of L and “room 9ed” due to his injuries.

Just a block away at 6th & Broadway a white male was beaten and had his bicycle taken by the same group of individuals. He was also transported by EMS and hospitalized due to his injuries.

Officers were dispatched numerous times to the McDonald’s on East Market, Bader’s Market, White Castle and the McDonald’s at 2nd & Broadway on disorderly subjects following and during the above incidents.

Officers continued to respond to reports of criminal mischief to vehicles, buildings and property related to this group of individuals until the end of their shift.



—- The above memo was sent to social workers, corrections officials, judicial associates, and law enforcement personnel via LMPD Deputy Chief Yvette Gentry. Ms. Claycomb’s guide sheet appears to have been written in late February but it was sent this week following the downtown violence. It is unknown if Col. Gentry wrote the synopsis of the March 22nd violence that follows the section marked “LMPD Enforcement Plans.” The email addresses of recipients and cell phone numbers for Col. Gentry and Ms. Claycomb were redacted.

—- Col. Gentry’s email below illustrates her concerns regarding the current policy of allowing wayward children to walk away from the “soft detention” they are given at the YMCA Safe Place instead of full incarceration at the Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center.


From: Gentry, Yvette [] 

Sent: Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:34 PM

To: Claycomb, Sytisha; 
Subject: Important Issues with Youth Flash Mobs

Importance: High

I am sharing this memo with all of you in the wake of the increasing violence we are seeing from several groups of youth.

Over the past several weeks the number of incidents are rising and the damage and violence is becoming more severe. The most recent wave occurred last night when officers encountered about 8 different groups of kids, some groups had between 20-30 kids in them. They started in the area of Waterfront Park and made their way south and west. They left a trail of injured victims and damage to businesses that you will find detailed on the last page of the memo.

We made one arrest from a robbery that occurred but were not able to successfully get our hands around the vast majority of the kids involved. We were reluctant to take officers off the street to find parents of the kids individually because there were some many incidents we were responding to at once.

I am looking to each of you for suggestions on how we can fill the gap that exists during emergency situations when we encounter large crowds of kids. With Spring Break and Thunder approaching, we must get a grasp on this issue and find solutions. We have a system in place for the felonious activity but have some holes in the less serious but equally alarming issues.

How can we create a place that officers can bring kids where they will be forced to stay until someone comes to accept responsibility for them without overwhelming our system? Please weigh-in!

Colonel Yvette L. Gentry
Deputy Chief of Police
Louisville Metro Police Department
633 W. Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 574-7921


From: Claycomb, Sytisha 

Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:51 PM

Subject: JDAI/DMC Steering Committee Meeting


Please see the attached agenda for tomorrow’s JDAI/DMC Steering Committee Meeting. Attached is a rough draft of our county’s “purpose of detention” statement. Please look this over and come prepared to discuss and hopeful flush out a finalized statement. If you have any questions between now and tomorrow please feel free to contact me.


Sytisha Claycomb, M. S., Industrial Organizational Psychologist
Public Protection Coordinator
Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services, LMYDS
720 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Office: (502) 574-6335

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