BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge police are urging community members to prevent violence, and they say it starts with their kids' bedroom.
Within Baton Rouge city limits, so far this year, police have investigated 37 murders, with 12 of them happening in May, the police department says.
Deputy Chief Herbert "Tweety" Anny says despite having homicides, the public helped the department solve nine of those cases. But Anny is pushing for the community to do more, particularly parents and legal guardians.
"We want to encourage all family members, loved ones, parents, legal guardians to check their kids' rooms for weapons," Anny said in a video. He says the department often hears parents saying they had no idea their child possessed a gun.
Anny says many times, gun-related incidents involving youth are accidental.
"Some have lost their lives with the youth just showing their friends and buddies," Anny said. "'Hey, look at this weapon,' but they don't know how to handle the weapon."
Aside from accidental causes, Anny says bullying is another motivation for young kids possessing guns and keeping them in their homes. "We can't have that," Anny said. "So please, please, don't just say, 'My kid isn't going to do it.' Make sure you check your kids' rooms periodically. Check the car. Check the mattress. Check the trucks."
He also recommends parents check their child's belongings, even when they do not think they would engage in violent crimes. "Make sure you get out and check your kids' rooms periodically," he encouraged. Anny also suggests parents check other places where a firearm can be hidden, like in a car.
Shetika Deamer, owner of Flam'n Wingz and Stuffed Thingz at Gus Young and North 48th, says the crime rate has exploded recently, but she tries to stay in the kitchen focused on her food. She does think though that BRPD is spot on with their message, despite the reaction it may draw from kids. "They're going to resent you for it, but they'll thank you later, so I think as parent, we should step up and do what we have to do," said Deamer.
It's something she hopes will improve things around her restaurant, which she admits is hard to maintain when crime continues to explode. "It does put a damper on our business because people then say, 'Oh no, I'm not coming over there because I'm scared,'" Deamer added.
BRPD is also rolling out other ways to combat crime, including offering counseling services and adding more patrols in problem areas. One of the employees at the restaurant believes the patrols are helping. "It makes me feel good. I see them like every 30 minutes to an hour and they just ride around," said Takayla Moore.
While it's a step in the right direction, BRPD leaders say they need you to help them curb gun violence in the capital city. "Police cannot do it by themselves," said Anny.
Police are pressing citizens to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867 if they believe an individual might commit a violent crime.
During the video message, Anny recalls that many times after a violent incident takes place, the department gets "a host of people" reporting to police that they knew something prior to the violence.
"We do not just want you to call after something that has occurred," Anny said. "Call us at 344-STOP and we can provide intervention for that individual before they can commit any acts of violence or a violent crime."
In addition, Anny encourages community members to speak up about violence during one of the weekly events hosted by the Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) program. The times and locations for those events are provided on the City of Baton Rouge website or on the Baton Rouge Police Department's Facebook page.
Despite the recent violence in the city, Anny is thankful for those who helped make the arrests to solve the crimes.
"We want to reemphasize that police cannot arrest away out of this problem," he said. "We need you to participate more and help us again."