EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Just eight months into 2017, East Baton Rouge Parish has already surpassed the number of murders for all of 2016.
Five fatal shootings in the parish over the past week pushed EBR over the edge, surpassing the 61 murders documented last year by the EBR District Attorney's Office.
"Normally, things slow down after the summer time. Right now there's not a lot of signs of slowing," said DA Hillar Moore. "This year has just been a horrible year for homicides, compared to last year, which was the best year we ever had."
The reason for the high murder count is hard to know, according to Moore. He says it could be that after the flood, people are just now moving back into problematic neighborhoods. There are other possible factors as well.
"This could also be a backlash to last year being just a horrible year for all sorts of reasons," he said, noting the protests after the shooting death of Alton Sterling at the hands of Baton Rouge police.
Moore says compared to before, many of the 2017 murders have been drug-related or tied to domestic abuse. Meanwhile, he says gang violence appears to be more contained. He credits the BRAVE program. "While they're still there, the numbers are not nearly what we saw back in 2012, 2013," he said.
Going forward, Moore says leaders need to make sure law enforcement is staffed appropriately so officers working in divisions aimed at preventing violence, like the narcotics division, do not have to be pulled off to do regular patrols.
As of August 1, the Baton Rouge Police Department had 61 vacancies. "We have to fully staff our police department and our sheriff's office," Moore said. "I think you will see a difference."
Moore says parish leaders are also considering adopting the BRAVE model to target and cut back on domestic violence. Domestic abuse, Moore noted, often has repeat victims and repeat offenders.