East Baton Rouge DA: Drug dealers responsible for rise in murder rate

EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - It is no secret the murder totals in the Capital City are on the rise compared to last year. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney says violent drug activity is behind the most recent statistics.

A look at the yearly totals is telling. The statistics released by EBR DA Hillar Moore show the number of murders trending downward since 2008.

Perhaps the most noteworthy piece of information is a significant d rop from 84 homicides in 2012 to 66 the following year. The numbers, on average, continue to fall, but the DA says they are still not good enough.

"We are not happy where we are with the numbers," said Moore.

Moore says it's what's behind the figures that's so disturbing. He says so far this year, of the 44 murders that have happened in the parish, five have been domestic, and a few are gang-related, but the rest involve drugs.

"Drug dealing is a violent activity. It's not one where you'd think they [dealers] would call police if you get ripped off, but that's what they do, call police when drugs are stolen. It's territorial and it's a business, and they [dealers] have to protect their business. We find that small things will ignite them and when someone owes them or said something bad about them, they will take to violence to make things even," said Moore.

Hillar says community policing has been instrumental in helping law enforcement crack down on violent crimes, but he says shortages at both the Baton Rouge Police Department and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office have taken a toll on those efforts.

"If you listen to a police radio, they go from call to call to call. It's hard to stop, get out your car, and say, 'Hi mister so and so, how are you doing,'" said Moore.

Per the DA, BRPD is short 59 officers. EBRSO is down by 107. Moore says solutions do exist. The problem is finding the money to fund them. He says for now, his office is keeping a close watch on what crimes are happening in which neighborhoods to make better use of the resources they do have.

Moore added heroin-related deaths will be factored into the number of homicides this year. He says that could result in a higher than usual total.

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