EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - "Disappointing." That's the word East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore uses to describe 2017.
All in all, the DA's office says there were 104 murders across East Baton Rouge Parish, a record-breaking number for a single year. That number does not include homicides determined to be justifiable or negligent.
"We don't need another year like we had this year," Moore said.
Like in recent years, most of the murders happened in two zip codes: 24 in 70805 and 23 in 70802. The rest were spread largely across three other zip codes: 11 in 70807, 10 in 70816, and eight in 70806.
Last year's murder count far surpasses the 61 murders logged in 2016, which was a recent low. It was also far higher than the rates over the past decade, according to data from the EBR DA's office. Moore blames an uptick in domestic violence and drug-related deaths. "When people say drug dealing is not a violent offense, it is a violent offense. It turns into homicide very quickly," Moore said. Of the 104 murders, Moore says 14 were due to domestic violence.
But the reason the violence spiked so dramatically in 2017 is still a mystery. Moore said it may have to do with people resettling after the historic 2016 flood. "Surely drug dealing was disrupted by floods. Their drug markets were moved around. Did they come back and start to get organized again? Is it historic feuding between families?" he said.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said Wednesday she is "optimistic" her newly-appointed BRPD chief, Murphy Paul, can reverse the deadly trend. Still, she admits it is not going to be easy. "The reduction of crime is not a very simple equation," she said.
Broome said they need to work to prevent violence, not just act in response. Moore said they also need the community's help. "It's a two-way street. It's the police, it's the community, it's the DA, vice versa working together. We cannot solve these cases ourselves," Moore said.
Moore said he met with the new chief over the weekend. He said they will be meeting again in coming weeks as they develop a plan of action for 2018.