Baton Rouge crime: Perception is reality?

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Perception can often be considered reality, and when you're in charge of selling a city to attract more visitors, that can be a problem.

City officials have been mindful to highlight crime fighting tools in and around Baton Rouge.

Tuesday wrapped up the huge bowling championship series in downtown Baton Rouge. There were several well publicized shootings and murders during the months the city hosted thousands of out-of-town guest.

Rosalyn Evans was one of those guests attending the bowling series with her husband from North Carolina.

"I felt very safe," Evans said."There are plenty of people around. We went to the casino and in the middle of the night I came back to the room by myself, I felt very safe."

Evans' comments are music to ears of people who are in charge of marketing Baton Rouge to visitors.

Paul Arrigo is the president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge. He says so far the crime perception has not been a reality in attracting people but that they are monitoring it closely.

"It has not come up as an issue with the convention planners, tour operators, or the boats," Arrigo said. "We have not had any concerns brought to us."

Arrigo says like with all cities, visitors should always be mindful.

"I am getting ready to travel two times in the next few months and when you travel you have to be aware of where you are," said Arrigo.

Recently a Baton Rouge woman claimed her Virgin Mary statue was miraculously bleeding from the head. Some people who read about her story on the internet took the opportunity make fun of crime in Baton Rouge.

One WAFB Facebook poster commented, "Someone bleeding everyday in Baton Rouge, the ghetto." Another poster commented, "The blood probably came from a hot bullet exiting the latest victim of the streets."

Baton Rouge also got attention from the widely-known eCards that seem to consume some Facebook pages. One that was spread around the area said "Was that fireworks or gunshots? Happy 4th of July Baton Rouge!"

A picture of a t-shirt recently appeared to spread via social media, it said "I vacationed in Baton Rouge and all I got was this lousy gunshot." The shirt appears to have a large blood stain on it.

"I'm sure our visitors go on and see this sort of thing. Does it help? No," Arrigo continued. "Again, we have not had any concerns brought to us."

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