Baton Rouge officials respond to spike in violent crime over weekend

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Baton Rouge officials discuss solutions after a violent weekend including five separate shootings leaves three dead.

“We have seen in the past two years there was an uptick in violent crime and violent acts,” said Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) spokesperson L’Jean McKneely.

McKneely said the police department is working with partners in different branches of government to stop violent crime in the community.

“We are working with our federal partners and our local partners to address the crime issue we are seeing in Baton Rouge,” McKneely said.

“Our crime cannot be solved with one agency, we’ve got to prevent the spread and that’s why we added the approach of empowering our residents to stand with us to say, ‘no more,'” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

Broome addressed crime in her State of the City Address last week.

“We are facing a crime epidemic, a public health crisis, that requires a whole government and community approach, just like COVID-19,” said Broome.

McKneely and Broome said a large portion of the crime is coming from a small group of bad actors.

“We have identified some individuals that we feel that are influencers in the community that is pushing the crime narrative, so we are going to focus our energy towards those individuals in an attempt to find out the reason why they are out there committing these crimes and then have those active players placed in jail,” McKneely said.

Because of repeat offenders, Broome also mentioned the need for judges to reconsider the bonds they give to those accused of violent crimes.

“Law enforcement in EBR has been very successful in arresting bad actors (those committing violence), but oftentimes those same individuals end up back in the community to either victimize someone else or become victims themselves,” said Mayor-President Chief Communications Officer Mark Armstrong.

Armstong stated that the pandemic has caused problems to the local legal systems, creating a domino effect on violent crime in the area.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a breakdown in various systems of accountability (outside the mayor’s control). Courts are backlogged as they experience staff shortages and meet less frequently. Parole and probation services have been affected. Mental health, substance abuse, and domestic abuse programs have all been disrupted,” Armstong said.

McKneely said the best way to support the police is for the community to tip the police before or after a crime is committed.

“Well most importantly is the community coming forward with information that they may have when a crime occurs,” said McKneely.

In Broome’s State of the City Address, she committed millions of dollars to programs with the focus of curbing crime in the community. Those funds include:

  • $500,000 of American Rescue Plan funds for special prosecutors and public defenders to address backlogs in the court
  • $8 million in American Rescue Plan dollars for the replacement of BRPD patrol units and other vehicles
  • $1.8 million to enhance the BRPD’s technological capabilities, including automated license plate readers and technology for strategic community camera programs
  • $3.3 million to implement gun violence reduction strategies in areas dominated by gun violence and increase community policing
  • Almost $400,000 for initiatives administered by Our East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore’s Office to address youth offenders, gun violence and the victims associated

“Bottom line, once the courts and service providers are able to reestablish and fortify their systems of accountability, we should also see a reduction in violent crime,” Armstong said.

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