Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baton Rouge Fights Back Against Violence

In May, Mayor‐President Melvin "Kip" Holden announced an ambitious new project to fight back against Baton Rouge's staggering violent crime rate.  The program, which has local government and law enforcement teaming up with "juvenile services, probation and parole, social agencies, LSU and the faith‐based community", is based on similar successful programs, coined Operation Ceasefire, in crime-ridden areas of Boston and Los Angeles.

Titled BRAVE (Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project), the project incorporates the same Group Violence Reduction Strategies employed in Operation Ceasefire and recommended by the National Institute of Justice.  Per The Advocate:

The premise behind Operation Ceasefire, according to program literature, is that crime can be dramatically reduced when law enforcement, residents and social service providers engage with the street groups and gangs to communicate three messages:
  •  A law enforcement message that any future violence will be met with clear, predictable and certain consequences; 
  • A moral message against violence by the right community representatives; 
  • An offer of help for those who want it. 
 As part of BRAVE, on Monday five Baton Rouge police officers - part of the department's new BRAVE enforcement unit - took to the streets in the most crime-ridden area of Baton Rouge, located in the 70805 zip code.  The Adovcate has more, "Anti-violence team formed".

Whether the program will be successful remains to be seen, but the results in other cities implementing similar programs give us much reason to be hopeful.  Mayor Holden says that they hope to see a difference in the targeted areas in 90 to 120 days.

In the meantime, District Attorney Hillar Moore has reached out to the community to hear their concerns and try to answer some questions about the criminal justice process in the city.  The first such forum was held Tuesday, June 5 at Catholic High School and was attended by about 100 people.

We should all do our part to make sure that not only our homes and loved ones are safe, but also our communities and local businesses.  Working together, perhaps we can all create a future, safer Baton Rouge.

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