BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department rolled out a new initiative Friday to combat violent crime in the city.
"We're pooling together some evening shift guys and some seasoned guys and they're going to do some active patrol out here in the streets," said BRPD Sgt. L'Jean McKneely.
The initiative comes on the heels of a violent weekend in the Red Stick with a handful of fatal shootings and a deadly stabbing spilling onto streets like Alaquippa Street, South Flannery Street and Goodwood Boulevard.
"This is an immediate response to calls that are happening out there right here and now," McKneely added.
Mere hours after the new unit came online, officers made a traffic stop at the intersection of Alaquippa and Wyandotte streets where they pulled what appeared to be prescription drugs from the car before taking the driver away in handcuffs. Minutes later, police swarmed the intersection of North 48th Street and Gus Young Avenue in response to a double shooting.
"I think it's unfortunate that a few hours after the announcement we have an incident like this," said EBR Councilman LaMont Cole.
Cole agrees something needs to be done about violent crime in the city but hopes the street crime unit is about more than just stamping out violence but building relationships as well.
"I'd like to see officers make a real strong effort to learn who residents are in the areas where they're canvassing to get to know the families and know the events that are taking place," Cole added.
McKneely says community policing is part of the plan. The initiative will pull two officers from each district for a total of twelve officers and he believes they will work the community angle into their response.
"These guys will be responding to some of the violent calls and shootings that are happening and they're also going to do proactive patrol and talk to the citizens out there while they are actually patrolling," McKneely said.
Residents like Charlie Hamilton welcome the heavy law enforcement presence. He said it should make everyone in his community feel safer.
"We need it, we need it, we need it man. We need it," said Hamilton. "I feel good to see them. Anytime I pull up here and see one riding by it makes me feel good."
McKneely says the street crime unit will be temporary step as the department takes a look at how well it works and how to make their policing more proactive.