BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Members of Baton Rouge law enforcement hit the court with area youth Friday at Gus Young Park. It was part of a summer pop up event hosted by the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program.
"It's an opportunity for our youth to see our law enforcement guys in a different light," said Aishala Burgess with the District Attorney's Office.
Positive interactions with law enforcement and the people they serve is what BRAVE is all about, and program director, Lt. Herbert Anny, says the hope is to do more.
"We need to go door to door, not only conducting surveys to see where we are as far as perception of the police department but we want the people to know who we are and we want to know who the people are," said Anny.
Since its start five years ago, the program has been credited with greatly reducing crime in the 70805 and 70802 zip codes. All of the hard work and progress is in jeopardy, however, because the $1.6 million federal gr ant, which funds the program, is set to expire in September.
"We may lose the funding for the BRAVE gr ants," Anny added.
While the city has already made an appeal to extend the gr ant, the federal government has not yet made a decision about whether to do so. Leaders of the crime-fighting initiative are exploring other funding options now, just in case.
"We have obtained a 501 C. We're praying that we get additional funding, but if not, we will attempt to solicit all of our business partners and industry partners and members of the public," said Anny.
Free snow balls, like the ones given out at Friday's event, are not the only thing at stake if the extension is not gr anted. EBR councilman, LaMont Cole, says the very safety of the community depends heavily on the future success of programs like BRAVE.
"I think the most important thing we can do as a community is work on ways to open lines of communication between all sectors of the community and this is that initiative," said Cole.
Cole says while funding is important what is really needed is more people willing to strive for necessary change.
"We need the federal funding to BRAVE to continue programs like this but what we need more of is people willing to volunteer their time to do this type of work," Cole added.