City looks to curb violence with community intervention, police equipment upgrades

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Tens of millions of dollars are coming to Baton Rouge to help cut back on the rising violence. The Metro Council was set to announce the second tranche of American Rescue Plan funding at Wednesday’s meeting but had to reschedule.

A portion of the money is going toward equipment upgrades for law enforcement and finding ways to fill the gap in officers. The hope is to replace some vehicles and other gear to save money in the long run. There is a push for better pay in the department to help with retention and recruitment. 

“Some of the moves in here will provide efficiencies, reducing the cost of fleet maintenance if we save $1,000,000, that’s almost a 2% pay raise. So a lot of the initiatives in the American Rescue Plan are designed at the mayor’s request to help reduce long-term operating costs,” said Chief Administrative Officer for Baton Rouge Darryl Gissel.

The city has seen a rise in domestic violence and crimes where the two parties know each other, which is one of the more challenging crimes for police to prevent, according to Gissel.

“We know that 50% of the crimes that happen right now, especially the homicides, are happening in a household or on the perimeter of a household,” Gissel said.

Outside of the law enforcement focus, $14 million will go towards community-based intervention methods. The NAACP is meeting with the city on their methods of helping to address violence. They host walks through neighborhoods that have been identified to have high crime to show there are people listening.

“We want to see people from all different colors of folks out there and I think that’s what’s going to make it work. Although it may be recognized or highlighted that these particular neighborhoods are being impacted, I just think that our city as a whole ends up being impacted,” said Juanne Porter, NAACP Chair of Community Coordination Committee.

They hope to see more people investing in finding out why violence is rising rather than reacting after it happens.

“I think that more people other than the NAACP should get on board with us and even just walk, and if people see that everyone is coming together and that we’re concerned about this, I think that’s going to make a huge difference as well,” Porter said.

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice recently put together a listening group for people to share their concerns around the violence without calling for more police presence. They said they have had over a thousand people participate to share their concerns and what they feel is the best way to tackle violence. 

“Just having a conversation around the amount of gun violence in our communities and really wanting to take more of a holistic approach that actually addressed root causes,” said Kaitlyn Joshua, community organizer for the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice.

Their aim is to help fix hunger, unemployment, and many more issues that could lead to violent crime. While they understand the importance of law enforcement, they don’t want to increase the already high incarceration rate.

“What we want to do is to get to the root cause, try to alleviate the problem before it’s a problem to help curtail and change some of the legislation, some of the things that we have in place that are allowing things to happen,” said Flitcher R. Bell, Executive Director of Capital Area ReEntry Coalition.

Read how Baton Rouge is doling out the ARP dollars here.

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