Parish Leaders and law enforcement say COVID-19 has contributed to record high homicides in East Baton Rouge

Parish Leaders and law enforcement say COVID-19 has contributed to record high homicides in East Baton Rouge
It's been a record-breaking year for violence in east Baton Rouge. District Attorney Hillar Moore says 109 people have been murdered so far. Community leaders are now promising change. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s been a record-breaking year for violence in East Baton Rouge. District Attorney Hillar Moore says 109 people have been murdered so far. Community leaders are now promising change.

“We will make our communities safer, and we will build on the work that we have started. And we have laid a great foundation to build on,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, during her mayoral acceptance speech.

Mayor-President Broome took heat during the campaign for the high crime rate.

She attributed the spike to COVID-19. The Baton Rouge Police Department says the virus has altered the way they are able to police within the community.

“There are a lot of programs that the police department would normally do throughout the year as an outreach to the community that have not happened due to COVID,” said Sergeant L’jean McKneely

He says many of their programs aimed to strengthen community ties and curb violence like boxing with the badge, dancing with the badge, and basketball with the badge were too risky to continue during the pandemic.

“We’re putting our best foot forward with the community, with community leaders with different programs, with members of the community who are out there trying to make a difference. We are collectively making an attempt to change the idea the culture of violence,” said Sgt. McKneely.

Without the outreach programs, McKneely says the department is leaning harder on technology to help fight crime. BRPD recently launched a neighborhood camera program in partnership with the mayor’s office, that will feed vital information to BRPD’S real time crime center.

“It’s a pilot program right now to where a neighborhood can buy cameras to harden their subdivision. They have cameras that will be able to tie in with the homes with their permission. We have red light cameras in particular areas and license plate readers to assist us in combating crime,” said McKneely.

McKneely says the department will take what they have learned from this year, to keep communities safer in 2021.

“We are going to get the new information that we have because of COVID and everything that is happening in 2020. We have to revisit the data that we have that’s new and compare it to the old and make some adjustments.”

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