BATON ROUGE, LA, December 29, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Is there a crime problem in Baton Rouge? The answer as revealed on Legal Lines is unequivocally YES. Dr Edward Shihadeh, a criminal analysis expert at Louisiana State University has studied the Baton Rouge crime rate for years and has determined that the per capita murder rate of Baton Rouge is higher than Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., and New York. Dr. Shihadeh has further observed that the Baton Rouge murder rate has increased more than 40% over the last 10 years and that the violence of a city is the most accurately determined by its homicide rate. Baton Rouge's crime problem is so bad that it was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for its high crime rate.
All Baton Rouge Law Enforcement Chiefs stress the seriousness of the crime problem in Baton Rouge. Louisiana State Police Colonel Michael Edmonson pointed out that Baton Rouge is one of the top five worst crime cities in the nation. D.A. Hillar Moore stated that everyday cases come in at increasing rates, and that the homicide count is real. Sherriff Sid Gautreaux pointed out that the Sherriff's department has more homicides to date this year than the prior year, crime is spreading outside of the notorious areas, and that if we do not address the problem, there will be no safe place to live. Baton Rouge City Police Chief Dewayne White acknowledged that within the city limits the homicide rate is outpacing last years pace.
These Legal Lines interviews make it evident that Baton Rouge's Crime problem is serious. The next question becomes who can tackle this problem? Mayor Pro Temp Mike Walker explained that the two players with access to city resources are the Mayor, and the City Council, but that the Mayor is the true director of and authority over resources and implementation. Only the Mayor, has the power to tell people what they can or cannot do. The Mayor appoints department heads, and he holds them accountable to his mission, and if they do not deliver, they are terminated. The Mayor orchestrates what can be done regarding the crime problem.
In a Legal Lines interview, the Mayor indicated that sufficient money does not exist to do more than what has been done regarding crime. The Mayor wants to fund a couple of academies to mitigate the issue. The mayor says that what we need is community support and outreach, not more officers on the ground. The law enforcement chiefs disagree. D.A. Hillar Moore stated that if Baton Rouge knew how few deputies and officers work per shift and location, the city would be scared, and that other cities that do know the number think it is a joke. Sherriff Gautreaux pointed out that there has been a tremendous increase in population, but not a tremendous increase in resources. Chief Dewayne White pointed out that at a minimum, we need enough troops to keep up with the attrition rate, which is absent at present.
In order to beat this problem, Sherriff Gautreaux stated that real resources need to be directed to the City Police, Sherriff's Office, and the D.A.'s office. Hillar Moore pointed out that the funding and direction of resources is a matter of priorities, and we need to figure out where our priorities lie. Chief Dewayne White stressed that we need a united stand against crime. Finally, to beat this problem, all the Chiefs stated that the downtown jail needs reopening for several reasons. Firstly, by not opening, it sends a bad message to both victims and perpetrators that if you commit a crime, nothing happens to you. Secondly, it ties the hands of the law enforcement officers. At present, there is nowhere to send perpetrators of misdemeanor crimes. That is why there are hundreds of thousand of outstanding misdemeanor warrants. Thirdly, it takes the teeth out of the law enforcement bite.
It is evident that Baton Rouge needs a real plan, more boots on the ground, and more resources in order to end this crime problem.