Officials optimistic about Baton Rouge murder rate

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, there were 67 murders within city limits in 2012. That number was slightly up from 64 reported homicides in 2011.

"We talk in numbers and this is people's lives we're talking about and whether it's a decrease in two or three or increase in three or four it's still someone's loved one," said East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Moore realizes it's easy to lose sight of those affected when analyzing numbers but adds that programs like Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination or BRAVE, are designed to keep the public personally involved and are making a difference.

"The intelligence and numbers tell us that most of the homicides we have are group related, so if we attack the groups then we are going to make a significant impact," added Moore.

What is also significant according to Moore, is that of the 67 murders in the year, 55 came in the first eight months. That drop-off in homicides has local law enforcement officials optimistic.

"The numbers are up but the last four months show some promise. We can't claim any victory right now. We have a long way to go, it's a long process but we need the people themselves and that's where the change is going to come from," said Moore.

Matt Lee is a Criminology Professor at LSU and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research. Lee noted what's important for the average resident, is there has not been a major increase in the number of homicides involving people without a prior relationship.

"I think we're going to have to wait and see what happens over the next six months but that would be a very positive development if that trend does hold but at this point I think it's a little too early to put too much emphasis on," Lee said.

The downward trend in murders near the end of the year was also felt outside of the city limits in East Baton Rouge Parish. EBRSO reported 15 murders in 2012, but only two over the last six months of the year.

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