BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With Baton Rouge on track to break records for homicides and murders, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome is outlining her strategy to cut back on the violence. However, any such strategy could take months to come together.
Earlier this week, a violent night made headlines. There were five shooting scenes across the parish in a two-hour time period. Two people died and four were injured.
"We've been taking action steps long before this situation started," said Broome.
Broome says she wants to strategically place police officers, putting even more in high crime areas, especially north of Florida Boulevard. However, that requires more staff. The Baton Rouge Police Department is currently short 62 officers.
The mayor admitted Friday that getting people to join the ranks is no easy task, in no small part because of the low pay. When asked if she would prioritize officer salaries and the police in the next budget, Broome replied, "I would say overall, and this is certainly a discussion that the chief and I have on a regular basis as we look at budgetary needs, that undoubtedly public safety is among the top three priorities for our community."
The parish has added a police academy class of ten starting next month for officers transferring from other agencies. They could be on the streets by December. The mayor says she also will increase the capacity of academies next year to welcome more officers to the force. However, even then, it will be months before they could begin patrolling.
"The truth of the matter is there is a process in government, and usually the process in government moves a lot more slowly than people would like," said Broome.
On Monday, at the mayor's request, BRPD Chief Jonny Dunnam will be meeting with the head of Louisiana State Police about the possibility of getting some help. "The expectation is they would be an addition to the manpower that we need on the street," Broome said. But with LSP short on staff themselves, there is no guarantee.
The mayor says she also wants to get the city's surveillance cameras back online. Across the city, many of the original 150 cameras are no longer functioning.
The mayor wants to add 25 new cameras, at the cost of about $260,000. She says she plans to reach out to businesses to help cover the costs. "They would be strong stakeholders and be responsive to raise money to address issues that will help us," said Broome.
Overall, the mayor struck an optimistic tone, asking parish residents to remain calm. "We are going to get past this. This is not going to be the norm for our city or our parish," said Broome.
However, what the new normal will look like could still be months in the making.