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‘We have to fill these vacancies’ BRPD chief reveals to council main strategy to fight violent crime

Another day ... another presentation and the subject remains the same - collaboration. But we're learning just how under-staffed BRPD is.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 10:41 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome’s blitz to prop up her administration’s efforts to control crime in the Capitol City, made a pit stop at the Metro Council meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26.

It was the same subject matter discussed the past couple of days, collaboration between local, state, and national partners.

“But we created a plan, and our plan is called ”Operation Red Stick,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul.

BRPD Chief Paul stood in front of the Metro Council to explain this new collaboration between law enforcement partners when it comes to sharing information to stop crime.

“We’ve identified a small group of people who we believe are directly involved in criminal behavior,” said Paul.

Folks with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office also talked about how they are contributing.

And council members were frank with their concerns.

“With all that we are putting in place, when the rules, the laws, the whatever are broken, and they are incarcerated. They should not be right back out in a short period of time, so we need to make sure that everybody is on board with this and that our judges are definitely included in this collaborative effort,” said Carolyn Coleman, Metro Councilwoman for District 10.

“But we’re seeing it over and over. Folks are turning to the streets to take care of themselves and their families. And it’s incumbent upon us to create more jobs, more income opportunities, more education, to catch individuals before they enter the mindset to go to crime. Because I’m going to tell you something, once the mindset is there, more police not going to stop it. More police is not going to stop it, it’s not going to turn it around,” said Cleve Dunn Jr., Metro Councilman for District 6.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore says with 149 murders last year, these killings are not random.

“You may not feel this, people that listen may not feel this or see this, but Baton Rouge is actually a safe place. Unless you are involved in a gang or gang dealing, involved in drug activity. Drug dealing because it involves guns, or unfortunately in a bad domestic relationship that involves violence,” said Moore.

Chief Paul finally said his number one priority was to tackle the crime.

“And our number one strategy this year and last year, is to fill the vacancies within the department. We need boots on the ground, for these strategies to work. We have to fill these vacancies, that is our number one priority. And I’m asking for your help,” said Chief Paul.

Hopefully, we’ll get the manpower in place to do a lot of these programs that you have,” said Aaron Moak, Metro Councilman for District 4.

The chief says they have around 100 vacancies right now within the department. But over the past decade, the department has always been about 50 officers short.

“I just approved right around $50,000 in advertising, videos. You’re going to see us on social media platforms, you’re going to see some billboards, you’re going to see us in some commercials for the first time, a very aggressive recruiting campaign. So we believe that when we look at the numbers compared to what others are recruiting, we’re doing pretty good on the recruitment side and on the turnover side,” said Chief Paul.

A spokesperson with BRPD tells WAFB, right now they have about 588 officers.

Between 630 and 650 would put them near their average rate.

Starting pay on day one for a Baton Rouge Police officer is $32,000.

But if you make it one year, we’re told that can jump to around $41,000.

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