BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Despite violence in the Capital City dominating headlines in 2016, the number of murders across East Baton Rouge Parish was at its lowest level in at least the last nine years.
Data from the district attorney's office shows there were 61 murders parish-wide in 2016, excluding homicides considered negligent or justifiable. The report indicated 53 of those deaths were caused by shootings.
In the city of Baton Rouge specifically, data from the Baton Rouge Police Department shows there were 47 murders, the lowest number since 2004.
"Some may say that's luck, but we've done things differently," said EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore.
Murders across the parish have, for the most part, been on the decline since 2012, according to data from the DA. That is the year that the parish launched the BRAVE initiative, aimed at improving relations between the police and community.
There were 84 murders in 2012, 66 in 2013 and 63 in 2014. There was an uptick in 2015 to 77. Moore attributes that to a high number of double and triple homicides during that year.
Moore said overall, BRAVE, coupled with the new Crime Strategy Unit, has helped cut back on the killings.
"I think we're benefiting by working smarter, working harder and working collaboratively together," Moore explained.
Moore discredits the idea that the historic storm of August played a role in reducing numbers this past year.
"We see beginning of January of last year all the way through July, things were on the decline. So, it really had nothing to do with the flood," Moore added.
Ultimately, the overall numbers for the year rebounded in November, when 14 murders occurred. It was the highest number in one month in at least the last nine years, according to data from the DA's office.
Moore said it was unclear what caused the sudden spike in November.
Looking to the next year, Moore said there is still plenty of work to do, especially in certain communities.
Data shows that particular zip codes continue to lead the parish in terms of murder rates, with 16 in the 70805 and 10 in the 70802.
"The months change, but the shootings remain the same," Moore stated.
He would like the parish to invest more in real-time crime fighting and data collection. He also said improving trust between police and the community is paramount.
"We need cooperation. Without cooperation, we're stuck with science. Juries, they want to hear not only DNA, fingerprints, ballistics. They want to hear witnesses," Moore said.
The three law enforcement officers killed in July's ambush shooting are counted among those murdered in 2016. Alton Sterling, however, is not. His death has not yet been classified.