Viewpoint: July 15, 2009

Keeping up with the fight against crime in Baton Rouge has turned into a major effort for local law enforcement. Hardly a day passes that we aren't shocked or outraged at what we see and hear about.

There's a principal called the 80-20 rule. It means 80% of the crime is committed by 20% of the criminals. If that's correct, the 20% is doing a lot of damage. The district attorney, sheriff, and three local police chiefs are applying that rule in a new program that targets repeat criminal offenders.

It's called ROPES, which stands for "Repeat Offender Prosecution and Enhancement System." It's a big undertaking that is stretching the budgets of law enforcement. To date, this multi-agency effort has identified 288 repeat offenders. The top 30 of the worst of those have already been targeted.

If "ROPES" is effective, criminals who may have served a couple of years behind bars could face 15-25-year terms. That's a long stretch. We're encourage by this new stragety, but if it's to be successful, officers will need your help. It's time for citizens who are fed up with the criminals to do what's necessary to make their neighborhoods safer.