BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome hosted four community meetings at area churches Monday night to get feedback from community members on the growing violence in the capital city.
Broome attended each of the meetings, making it her mission to meet with residents and members of area law enforcement. The first meeting she attended was at Greater King David Baptist Church.
Roughly three dozen people gathered around tables there. The conversations they had were personal and many people there took notes.
"It's so important that the community is involved because they are very vital stakeholders in the outcomes," the mayor said.
Broome labeled the meetings a call to action. She said they are part of her approach to ease concerns and put a stop to the recent uptick in homicides. So far, the parish has broken records this year racking up 95 homicides.
"While we certainly have been increasing a police presence, we have to have programs. We have to increase employment opportunities. All of that is part of the solution," said Broome.
Just a week after launching the violent crime strike force, acting US attorney Corey Amundson told the group he wants them to know without a doubt that their only goal is to clean up the city's streets.
"What it is is getting after the most violent folks that are doing to our communities what no community should have done to them," said Amundson.
The message seems to be sticking. Some folks left the meeting feeling optimistic about what the face to face with law enforcement and city leaders can mean for going forward.
"I believe this is a great start. Obviously, we do have to put more effort behind it but I commend everyone that has taken the initiative," said Danielle Kennebrew.
Not everyone was sold on the strategy. Critics say the time for talk is over and it is time for the mayor to deliver.
WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked the mayor if the meetings were just more conversations.
"No it's not just more conversation," she replied. "In fact, I shared with a group recently that I don't like to meet just for the sake of having meetings. I am a person of action."
The mayor said the ideas she already has combined with the feedback she gets from these meetings will all be rolled into a master plan to combat crime.
Once compiled, Broome says the master plan will be posted to the city's website.
Other meetings Tuesday night were held at Broadmoor United Methodist Church, Oasis Christian Church, and Shiloh Baptist Church.