BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Members of the Baton Rouge Police Department and area business leaders held a public meeting Tuesday night aimed at improving community policing and also making the downtown experience better for everyone who lives and works within the city.
As parts of downtown continue to grow with bustling businesses and a boom in housing options, unfortunately, the possibility of crime also rises. The focus of the meeting was to identify ways to tackle that crime and how residents in the area can help.
"The people are the eyes and the ears of the community and this is a good way to get feedback and suggestions on things they might want to look into," said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District.
Rhorer says it's an unfortunate side effect of progress. "Downtown is very much evolving and changing right now. A lot of construction going on, a lot of new people living downtown, so we want to make sure the everybody communicates well and are aware of all the changes that are underway," he added.
The meeting comes as Mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome continues to push for police reform and encourages the department to build strong relationships within the community it serves. Sgt. Don Coppola with BRPD maintains it's something the force is committed to doing. He wants the public to be reassured that they're is taking the public's concerns seriously.
"It is very important that we keep these lines of communication open and with meetings such as the one this evening, you get to know the officers more on a one on one basis," said Coppola.
This was the second meeting of its kind devoted to the downtown area and the conversation focused not only on crime, but also on making sure events held in the area run smoothly. Coppola says the best way to do that is facing each problem head on. "We've gotten together, answered whatever questions they had, and tried to come up with some resolutions on some of the issues that they have had," he added.
The group hopes to continue working to improve relationships between the public and police, but say they need the public's help to make it work.