BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Mayor’s Office Summer of Hope Initiative effectively shows the decrease in violence in the Baton Rouge area. The initiative is broken into 4 categories — street engagement, programs to engage youth, joy and hope events, and discussion panels.
“We know that every summer, we see a spike in violence, so we decide to activate like never before,” said Mark Armstrong, Chief Communications Officer for the Mayor’s Office.
The Summer of Hope initiative originally started as an 8-week program. However, with tremendous positive feedback, the Mayor’s office decided to extend it to a 12-week program.
Armstrong says they ‘knocked on over some 75,000 doors, connected with some of 30,000 residents. “He claims this initiative is to “Put the public back into public safety.”
Conversations with the public included topics like:
- Quality Housing Issues
- Essential needs for youth like baby formula, diapers, and clean clothes.
- Employment and Education.
- Behavioral and Mental Health
- Blight and Neighborhood Cleanliness
- Adding additional street lighting
With the summer coming to an end, The Summer of Hope Initiative released some numbers on how these community events statically changed our area. The full report will be released soon.
“What we found is that when we have five or more events, in a given week, in these specific neighborhoods. The average level of violence incidents drops below average,” according to Armstrong.
Over 12 weeks we hosted, sponsored, and partnered in 125 events with 226 community organizations, resulting in key outcomes like:
- The Mayor’s Youth Workforce Experience, where Baton Rouge youth ages 14 to 24 completed 149,000 hours of work, learning, or volunteer experience.
- These canvass teams also followed up with phone calls to ensure people were properly connected to resources they needed like emergency rental assistance where we have disbursed $47.5 million dollars to date.
- More than 2,000 Pieces of Art were created by elementary-aged youth through the LSU Museum of Arts Neighborhood-Arts-Projects.
The East Baton Rouge Metro Council increased Baton Rouge Police Department salaries due to working long hours on the street fighting crime.
With more community events and police on the streets, they were able to find some staggering statistics.
Comparing this summer to last year, from May 27 to August 20, they saw there was an improvement in 4 out of 5 categories of violent crime:
- Actual Homicides decreased by 25% with Fatal Shootings decreasing by 15%. Non-fatal shootings also saw a small decrease of 1.3%
- Stabbings decreased by 51%
- Robberies decreased by 12%
- Sexual Offenses decreased by 6%
According to Executive Director of 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge, Dadrius Lanus, he’s been pleased with how these events have helped children in the area.
The 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge held a Summer of Hope Event back in August, to bring Fathers and Sons under one roof to discuss decreasing gun violence.
“But it was the feedback and the impact we were able to make from that meeting, the message that they left away with. It was phenomenal,” Lanus said.
Lanus and other local leaders look forward to more initiatives in the future. The Mayor’s office is currently working on expanding the Summer of Hope program into other seasons.
“Let’s continue to do this work, there are so much great things that are ahead,” Lanus added excitedly.
For anyone who wants to get involved in these initiatives, the Mayor’s Office holds monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of each month.
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