BRAVE initiative grows in chief’s absence

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Could the drama surrounding the embattled Baton Rouge Police Chief affect a new initiative to tackle crime in North Baton Rouge?

The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project, also known as BRAVE, is an initiative which aims at targeting juvenile offenders over a three year period. It is funded by a $1.5 million federal grant awarded to the City-Parish.

"This is going to be a large effort on behalf of the police department to let people know they are concerned about their health and welfare," said Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden.

But the Baton Rouge Police Department is without its Chief. Mayor-President Kip Holden fired the city's top cop just hours after a news conference where city leaders discussed gun safety; which has some concerned it could interfere with BRAVE's mission.

Holden says his decision to dismiss Chief Dewayne White will not impact the City-Parish's plans to get violent offenders and drug dealers off the streets.

"BRAVE will not be dwindled. You'll have the same people running that operation and adding to that you're looking at expanding brave to take in some more zip codes," said Holden.

District Attorney Hillar Moore, the man Holden refers to as the driving force behind the BRAVE initiative, says every man and woman who wears a badge is equally important to BRAVE's success.

"It's about the process. It survives anybody that would never be in office anymore, would die, terminated," said Moore.

Moore says approximately 21 officers will be a part of a call-in team that meets with violent criminals and drug suspects about their behaviors, and warn them of the consequences that will follow if they continue to break the law.

"The sheriff will... You'll see them inside the city in 70805 when there's some trouble and you'll see the city outside in the BRAVE units when there's trouble outside," said Moore.

City-Parish leaders say you can expect to see the officers in action by next month.

Moore says BRAVE officers will start calling in violent offenders from the 70805 zip code in March. The plan is to work next in the Gardere and Scotlandville areas.

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