BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome formally announced the ReBuilds Americorps VISTA program to help support and strengthen neighborhoods in high crime areas.
Broome made the announcement Thursday morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on Gus Young Avenue.
"Addressing crime in our community is two-fold," Broome said. "It's law enforcement and it's preventative and proactive measures."
The local AmeriCorps group will hire "fellows," or employees of the city that will work in high crime areas like Glen Oaks and Scotlandville. They will organize neighborhood watch groups, youth programs, and interview people to find out what they want for their communities.
"Actually do some ground level work in the community to help strengthen neighborhoods and bring access and bring resources to those neighborhoods and kind of bring our community together," said Makesha Judson, chief service officer for the city.
The Baton Rouge Police Department also announced a new mentoring program, where they will play sports with and spend time with kids after school. One officer says they want to do a better job of reaching out to kids in trouble.
This program aims to strengthen the relationship between the city's youth and law enforcement. This is a free program where young people can get one-on-one mentoring with a BRPD officer for up to 12 weeks. There are also recreational activities for them to participate in.
"We have kids that come, a lot of times, and they share a lot of different things that maybe that they're dealing with," said BRPD Sgt. Riley Harbor. "It may be some problem with school or some things at home that they are looking to enhance."
This all comes on the heels of another violent night in Baton Rouge with three shooting scenes.
Broome says she's trying her best to juggle the influx of crime while also improving the communities. "We continue to increase our manpower on the street, we continue to ask our citizens to partner with us in providing information," Broome said. "And I assure you that BRPD, in collaboration with law enforcement officials from throughout the parish, are working diligently to address those issues."
The Mayor's office is looking for people who live in the following areas (although they will accept all applicants):
- South Baton Rouge
- Glen Oaks area
- Melrose East
Applicants can sign up at nationalservice.org.
During the mayor's Call to Action community meetings last week, many residents spoke out about the need for neighborhood watch type programs, and for more support and resources for their communities.