Supporters of BRPD residency requirements proposal rally at community meeting

Supporters of BRPD residency requirements proposal rally at community meeting

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Where Baton Rouge police officers live is expected to come up again before the East Baton Rouge Metro Council next week.

The crowd was standing room only at the Jewel Newman Community Center in Scotlandville as nearly 75 people showed up to speak their minds about a proposed residency requirement for police with the Baton Rouge Police Department.

The plan would require BRPD officers hired starting next year to live within Baton Rouge city limits.

The proposal was struck from the Metro Council's agenda on July 27, but author Councilwoman Chauna Banks said she has made changes and is ready to present the best version.

"I believe that absolutely it will help bridge the relationships and the trust and transparency and fairness as it relates to our law enforcement and citizens to ensure that they all make it home safely," Banks said.

Opponents of the idea say, among other things, it would hurt recruitment efforts, but Banks has altered the measure to extend to parish limits.

"The first one said city and now it's the parish of East Baton Rouge," Banks said. "That was one of the only two things that my council members said they had a problem with."

Banks believes most of the backlash comes from misunderstanding. She said the measure is not about taking away freedoms or telling people where they can live but rather establishing guidelines, much like the ones already in place for other situations like for politicians.

"We have residency restrictions for those of us that run for public office," she said. "For me to be a council member there are residency restrictions."

Councilwoman Tara Wicker was also at the meeting. She applauded the attendance and said it reinforces residents' strong desire for change.

"I think that each one of us play a specific role, a dynamic role but we are demanding change. There has to be change that takes place and it's going to take all of us coming together, putting our heads together, our hearts together and figuring out how we can move forward together as a community," said Wicker.

While she understands some are not happy with the idea, Banks believes the city has to start somewhere and ultimately her goal is to improve relations parish-wide.

"I see this as a way to help our law enforcement officers as well as our residents and our civilians," Banks added.

Residents are expected to have their chance to address the measure at the next Metro Council meeting set for Wednesday, August 10.

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