First quarter homicides in Baton Rouge about the same as last year

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Detectives have a new weapon in their war on crime. It is called a "hot list" and investigators have got a message for everyone on it.

It is a battle officers of the law come face to face with more often than they would like on the streets of Baton Rouge Parish. Violent crimes, murders especially, are a tough reality for the men and women in uniform. But experts have noticed they are making significant strides.

The Chairman of the LSU Department of Criminology, Ed Shihadeh, reviewed the data 9News compiled regarding homicides since January 1.

"In comparing the quarter of this year to the quarter of last year what I noticed is that we are right around the same level," Shihadeh said.

During the first quarter of 2013, the sheriff's office and city police department investigated 14 homicides. Since the first of this year, they worked 15. The last four happened last week.

Shihadeh said while the murder rate dropped 26% last year, there is still plenty of work to do, and the next steps he predicts could prove to be more challenging.

"Dealing with crime is a little like losing weight. The first five or ten pounds is easy and the next five and ten pounds after that is tougher and tougher."

Law enforcement joined forces to create the BRAVE initiative to tackle organized youth violence in the city. They penetrated the 70805 zip code and are moving into the 70802 area. But Shihadeh said detectives are also taking it a step further, by identifying individuals with known criminal records.

"We are giving the police hot lists that they can chase people down. It's customized notifications where they are approaching people and saying, hi how are you doing today you're on a list."

The list of preliminary homicide numbers for 2013 shows more than half of the suspects in the murders committed in the last three months were under the age of 20. Shihadeh said that does not surprise him.

"The most dangerous creature on earth is the teenage boy. They are truly the most dangerous creature. They have grown up bodies and mush for brains."

Combine that with the independence they gain and a lack of role models, Shihadeh said, and the combination is lethal. It is why he said the law is zeroing in on the people not just the places where crime has become part of everyday life.

Detectives have named suspects in all but two of the 15 homicides this year.

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