BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Domestic violence reports have seen an upward trend since the start of the pandemic. But now, leaders say the cases are becoming more violent as reports of domestic violence murders are seeing a scary uptick.

“Unfortunately we have seen an uptick in domestic violence homicides,” said Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Director of Public Affairs Letesha Davis.

The Baton Rouge Police Department reported a 700 percent increase in 2019.

Davis said gun violence is going up at an alarming rate.

In 2019, 16 people in Louisiana were killed as a result of domestic violence. In 2020, that number jumped to 65, 75 percent of whom were killed with a firearm.

Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard created a unit dedicated to these cases to help prevent the violence. He said the parish does not see an uptick in domestic violence murders but understands how serious it can get. 

“Most of our homicides in Livingston Parish are domestic-related,” he said.

Sheriff Ard created the unit after investigating a death he would never forget.

“They had restraining orders for all the paperwork and there was an incident done that day at a school with the victim and suspect. The victim never reached out to tell anyone about it. I really just felt like looking at it, maybe if she had that person, maybe she would have reached out and it could have been prevented,” Ard said.

Louisiana is ranked number five in the nation for domestic violence cases.

A state audit in December 2020 blasted the state for poorly handling reported cases. Auditors found a lack of resources and inconsistent protective orders. Davis said more needs to be done.

“We struggled with our responses to domestic violence here in Louisiana,” said Davis.

Those seeking help for domestic violence situations can call the Louisiana DV Hotline at 1-888-411-1333.