BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Five murders in five days has East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome saying she is taking immediate action.
"We recognize that there has been an increase as it relates to homicides in our city and parish," said Broome.
According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, there has been an increase of more than 100 percent from last year. This time last year, the department had worked 27 homicides, as compared to the 63 homicides they've already worked this year.
Last year, there were 61 homicides in the parish for the entire year. BRPD's homicide clearance rate is right around 60 percent, which means the department solved about 60 percent of those homicide cases, which is on par with the national clearance rate.
"We've initiated our street crimes unit that's out every night working overtime in those high crime areas. We've got double squads on Fridays, so we've allocated numerous officers to also be in those areas on Friday nights," said BRPD Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam.
Meanwhile, the mayor says she too is taking immediate action, first by getting BRPD, EBRSO, and her office all on the same page. Then, she says her own office is taking steps. "I'm directing my team to make sure that we're addressing issues that contribute to crime, such as blight in the community, such as abandoned cars, and also areas that are not lit well, so those are immediate action steps that my team will be taking," said Broome.
The mayor says she's also asked her public safety transition team to come up with a plan to engage the citizens of the parish, asking them to step up and report any crime they witness and for neighborhoods to start up neighborhood watch groups.
Interim Chief Dunnam says the crime increase is not due to a lack of effort of law enforcement's part, but rather, BRPD is still short nearly 60 officers, meaning they're stretched thin.
But all officials say they do not want residents to be alarmed by the crime. "I believe the future is going to look better for us," said Broome.
Dunnam says they're planning a course for 20 officers before October that's already in the budget. He's hoping for two more classes early next year and the mayor says she will take a close look at the budget and try to make revisions to allow for those classes.