BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The application process is wide open now for those interested in serving as a community police ambassador in Baton Rouge. The goal is to launch the program as early as next month.
"It's really exciting," said EBR councilwoman, Tara Wicker. "This allows us to be able to really put into action what we've been talking about."
The program is a new effort to improve relationships between police and the community they serve, while also building trust, something many thought was severely lacking following the shooting death of Alton Sterling.
The councilwoman helped spearhead the idea along with her colleague, Trae Welch, and says the community police ambassadors will basically serve as a liaison between the two groups. "We believe it's the first step," said Wicker. "Allowing there to be some open lines of communication about things that are going on in the local community and really allow the police department to hear conversations in a different way and allow the community to be exposed in a different way."
Apart from conversations, the group will also be called on to provide follow up and feedback on complaints. She says this will increase transparency and give the community more peace of mind.
"So that people will know that this is an issue, the police department is not just sitting on it, but now we actually have an advocate that works along with us to make sure those issues are resolved," she added.
The program hopes to find volunteers from each police district to serve. The unpaid ambassadors can be any community member willing to go through an application and training process and who are able to serve for at least two years, but there are a few qualifications.
"You got to be 18 years or older. You have to at least be able to live within the area that you're looking to represent within that police district," said Wicker.
Wicker admits for some, the responsibility may be great, but she says the service this group will provide to the community is even greater. "It's all about being able to give back to your community to your city to help make sure we're moving forward," she said.
Anyone interested in the program can find more information by attending any of the upcoming public meetings. They can also submit their applications online or in person at City Hall in councilwoman Wicker's office.
To apply online, click here. Those interested in participating in the program, or who have questions about it, can attend one of the following meetings:
- Tuesday, September 26: Scotlandville Library, 7373 Scenic Hwy. - 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 3: Jones Creek Library, 6222 Jones Creek Rd. - 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 10: Bluebonnet Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd. - 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 24: Eden Park Library, 5131 Greenwell Springs Rd. - 6 p.m.
- TBD: Broadmoor Baptist Church
- TBD: St. Aloysius Catholic Church Parish Hall