East Baton Rouge leaders discuss creating assembly to address community issues

EBR leaders discuss creating assembly to address community issues

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There could soon be an assembly of citizens formed in East Baton Rouge Parish to help identify problems in the community and come up with possible solutions.

District Attorney Hillar Moore, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie, local pastors and some Metro Council members met over lunch to discuss new ways to address what citizens see as problems in their community.

Joe Connelly, lead pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, wants to form an assembly to be a voice for citizens before the Metro Council. He said he saw it work firsthand in Raleigh, North Carolina 15 years ago.

"The community really got involved in what they were doing. Banks were put into the area, grocery stores, much needed services needed there," Connelly said.

Connelly said the assembly would consist of 45 people. Citizens who are interested in becoming a member would fill out a prospective member profile survey, be trained to sight real concerns in their communities, and come up with solutions to present to the council.

"The group is not just going to tell you what the issue is but formulate a way to solve the issue," Connelly said.

Dabadie believes a group like that could help mend the community's relationship with police.

"Obviously the community feels there's a disconnect there and we've seen it and we are working towards it and we are working to build better bridges with the community. We've been doing that for a long time now, but I think the community wants more answers and they want it more quickly," Dabadie said.

But some, like another local pastor Dale Flowers, think it would just slow things down.

"We know what the problems are. Let's deal with them. Why form another committee to deal with the problems that are right before us? Let's address those problems, and let's move forward," Flowers said.

Connelly hopes to have the assembly formed by the first of the year. The Metro Council would then have to approve it.

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