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‘I’ve lost that sense of security,’ Baton Rouge Mayor addresses violent 2021 in State of the City address

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - 2021 was the deadliest year on record in East Baton Rouge Parish.

During her State of the City address, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says we’re facing a crime epidemic.

“We all know about the influx of violent crime in 2021. And as your leader, I own that, and face it head-on every day,” said Mayor-President Broome.

According to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office, there were 149 murders across the parish in 2021. The district attorney reviews each case and decides whether or not to file criminal charges for each incident.

But the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office reports an even higher number of homicides across the parish in 2021, with 170.

According to Dr. Beau Clarks Office, a Homicide ‘is a medicolegal term that includes all human deaths caused by the actions of another human; some of those deaths may be subject to criminal prosecution, others are not.’

But the neighbors in the zip codes most affected, say it’s time for a change.

“You got to worry about if a bullet gonna strike them when they be playing,” said Wendy Williams, who lives on Sherwood Street in Baton Rouge.

What should be a joyful sound of children playing on a sunny afternoon, is overshadowed by the constant fear of what could happen.

“Usually could be night time but now it’s taken over. It’s anytime. And they don’t care who outside, kids, grownups, people, elderly, they don’t care,” said Williams.

Williams worries about her children and grandchildren every time they step out the front door.

“They had a whole shootout on the side of my house, a lot of kids were on the trampoline, and you see where the trampolines at,” said Williams.

On some of the streets of North Baton Rouge, it’s a common theme.

“I’ve lost that sense of security,” said Anna Watkins, who lives on Charles Street.

Anna Watkins lives just a few blocks away from where Williams does.

“I’m in the house about 5, no later than 5:30, with my alarm on, lights stay on, we don’t go in or out,” said Watkins.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, the most violent zip codes in East Baton Rouge Parish are 70802, 70805, and 70806. Two of those zip codes are in North Baton Rouge, which has gotten the attention of the mayor.

“She (a constituent) said to me, I’m retired now. I live in North Baton Rouge. And she said I feel like I can’t sit out on my porch to enjoy my retirement,” said Mayor-President Broome at the Rotary Club Wednesday.

At her State of the City address, the mayor says the City-Parish is investing nearly $2 million for new technology for BRPD, and expanding violence prevention programs throughout the community.

“That’s why we’ve added the approach of empowering our residents to stand with us to say no more,” said Mayor Broome.

But the folks who live in the dangerous spots in Baton Rouge, just want action.

“So there’s no police action coming here. If you happen to call for one, if they’re not dead in the street, they’re going to take about 45 minutes or an hour to get here,” said Watkins.

To watch the full Mayor’s State of the City Address, click here.

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