Viewpoint: February 24, 2010

If last month is any indication, we hope we are on our way to slowing a disturbing trend in Baton Rouge. There were five murders in the city in January, compared to seven in January of 2009.

According to the FBI, the 75 people killed last year within the city limits is a record. Parish-wide, there were 88 homicides in 2009, a 3.5 percent increase from the year before. These are alarming numbers and everyone should be concerned.

The steady rise in homicides has prompted authorities to target certain high crime areas. A good example is the Gardere Lane area, where the sheriff's office beefed up its patrols last year and it worked. The number of murders dropped from seven in 2008 to one murder in 2009.

Putting more officers in this crime hotspot on a regular basis is a step in the right direction. The district attorney is promising to focus on repeat offenders, develop a better witness assistance program and work with schools to keep juveniles from getting involved in crimes.

We hope those steps will make a difference, but we are also concerned that half of the murders committed in 2009 remain unsolved. We urge law enforcement to remain diligent in its efforts to make our homes and neighborhoods safer. To accomplish that goal, they will need the help of law abiding citizens like you. We urge you to report crimes when you see them and help authorities get the bad guys off our streets.