City of Baton Rouge expanding domestic violence court

City of Baton Rouge expanding domestic violence court

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It may look like just another arrest by the Baton Rouge City Constable's Office, but the hope is for a positive spin to what would normally make negative headlines.

"Part of this program is the belief that violence and control against women is a behavior that can be changed," said Lon Norris, Clerk of Court, Baton Rouge City Court

To that end, the city of Baton Rouge is expanding its Domestic Violence Court. Funded by grants, the program began in November with two offenders. Now, there's a dozen people the court says it's trying to help and that number could grow to over 100 by the end of the year.

"We're gradually increasing the number of participants in the program," said Norris.

Executing an arrest warrant, 29-year-old Travis Okeke was brought into custody Tuesday on three charges of resisting an officer, a DWI, and domestic abuse battery.

The constable's office worked 115 warrants across town Tuesday night, many of them domestic violence cases.

"We pray for every offender, God, that they will have a mind change," prayed Reserve Dep. Eric Shaffer with the Baton Rouge City Constable's Office.

Okeke and 33-year-old Rodney Johnson, another domestic violence arrest, spent the night in the parish prison and were arraigned Wednesday morning.

Now, they could find themselves added to the program.

"We believe that we have the key players in place. We have counselors. We have the judge in place," said Norris.

Judge Laura Prosser runs Domestic Violence Court every Tuesday afternoon. Before that, she meets with fellow members of the city's Domestic Violence Intervention team.

Meantime, before arresting anyone on the streets, Lt. Vernon Scott calls the court to make sure his warrant is accurate. A team back at the courthouse will check the court's more than 100-thousand records.

"One of the missions of Baton Rouge City Court is to protect and promote individual rights and liberties and safeguard those rights and liberties. One the reasons we verify warrants is to make sure there's been no activity on that particular warrant so that we're not unjustly arresting somebody," said Norris.

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