BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department says it’s cracking down on large gatherings that have been happening in Baton Rouge lately, especially near the River Center in downtown and on Plank Road.
Eight people were shot, one of which died, at such a large gathering at a gas station on Plank Road back in early July. It’s just this sort of thing that BRPD is looking to prevent.
The shooting took place just blocks away from BRPD’s First District.
Police tell WAFB close to 800 people were hanging around there and they found 178 shell casings.
These new “directive patrols” feature about 30 to 40 officers from BRPD, the Constable’s Office and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Department, to curb the activity that’s been going on in these areas, and to keep residents safe after numerous complaints.
“In an attempt to prevent those large gatherings because of COVID, that’s number one. And number two because of the amount of violence that those gatherings have most recently attracted,” said Sgt. L’Jean McKneely with BRPD.
BRPD is looking to disperse these large gatherings, some featured with party buses, motorcycles and much more.
“If they’re coming out here and you’re just hanging out, that’s fine. But when you start doing some of the violations that we’ve seen whether it be traffic violations or criminal violations, that’s why we’re getting involved,” said Lt. Chris Polito with BRPD.
Law enforcement officers will be patrolling particularly between Plank and Evangeline streets, and will go to other hotspots in and around the city of Baton Rouge, with the Sheriff’s Office assisting throughout the parish.
“Guns involved and shots fired and injured people, we felt we needed a stronger presence so that was the time where if you want to say enough’s enough, enough is enough. We have a community here that’s basically been held hostage by 178 shots fired and that’s not acceptable,” said Lt. Polito.
Recently there have still been about 2-300 people gathering in parts of the city, and BRPD says that number is too high.
“It’s strictly enforcement actions for violations that we’ve seen and again. There are several people that we give warnings too, don’t need a traffic ticket, don’t need a summons, don’t need an arrest. Hey just don’t ride on the top of your car, wear your seat belt, normal things that we do,” said Polito.
“Everyone that’s out there walking on the levee or those that are traveling up or down Plank Road or the Sherwood Forest area are safe. So our attempt is to disperse the crowd by having our presence out there,” said McKneely.
BRPD is not just looking to write tickets, they are hopeful that everyone just follows the guidelines for large gatherings by the governor, and are trying to keep everyone safe.
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