BRPD turns idea into a successful beat for downtown

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As the sun sets over the Capital City and the night sky takes over, the nightlife on Third street is coming alive. As patrons fill the downtown restaurants and bars, there's a different group that's getting ready to hit the streets.

"Alright guys, we going to have a roll call briefing real quickly," said BRPD's Lt. Cory Reech, who started the Downtown Beat.

Seven BRPD officers on foot and bike and two EMS paramedics make up the Downtown Beat.  

"Sometimes when there's a lot of traffic down here, it can cause congestion and being able to access it by ambulance becomes very difficult so we bridge with the response time by being on the bike team," said EMS paramedic Lacey Spencer.

The wheels and boots take to the downtown streets every Friday and Saturday night working into the wee hours of the morning.  It's an idea that BRPD Chief Carl Dabadie and Lt. Reech came up back in August.  

"Basically, what we're doing is as downtown grows, there's always an increase in activity.  People are patronizing all the venues here, and we want to have a police presence to create a positive atmosphere," said Lt. Reech.

With several new businesses opening shop in downtown mixed with big companies like IBM and Ameritas Technologies bringing in hundreds of new jobs, local leaders and owners call it a recipe for success...a success that's really helping put downtown on the map be it for tourists or locals heading there after work.  It's why Lt. Reech says their presence downtown is so important.  

"Any potential for flare up, we are here immediately, within seconds of incident," said Lt. Reech.  "They basically can walk out of their door and flag us down."

So every Friday and Saturday night, the group splits.  Sgt. Byron Fontenot, Cpls. Arthur Munoz and Jason Martin head one way.  Lt. Reech and Officer Ashley Gibson head a different way stopping in at every business along Third St.

"It's kind of scary at night.  They've really curved a lot of that though.  It's not quite as rowdy at all," said Schlitz & Giggles manager Jeffrey Walley.  "The belligerent, violence, there's been quite a few fights down here and over the last few months, that's really been cut down a lot."

Walley credits much of that to the police presence alone.

"I think that Downtown Baton Rouge has enormous potential for growth, you got to keep it organized," said downtown patron Clayton Samson.  "I'm proud of what BRPD is doing."

Turning off Third St. to Florida, the officers continue their beat stopping at the parking lot just before Poor Boy Lloyd's.

"Couple of potential car burglars (here)," said Lt. Reech.  "Just make a pass through here.  This is Lafayette and it'll take you back around."

Through the night, the uniformed men and women walk and ride the streets.  Turn any corner, and there are plenty of police cars.  Look from above, with lights on, they're driving down Third St, and when they need it, there's help from above providing a blanket of police protection for Downtown Baton Rouge.

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