Baton Rouge leaders discuss youth crime

Community leaders in Baton Rouge met on Saturday, June 4, to discuss ways to prevent youth violent crime.
Published: Jun. 4, 2022 at 10:47 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Community leaders in Baton Rouge met on Saturday, June 4, to discuss ways to prevent youth violent crime. The public forum took place at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

“If we look at our young people, our young people are not well. So no matter how we want to pretend that we are doing okay as a people, as a community we are not,” said East Baton Rouge parish juvenile court judge, Gail Grover. “If we want to change that in a real way what we are providing.”

Representatives of various Baton Rouge agencies discussed new youth programs coming to the city.

One of those is the Summer of Hope initiative. It is an eight-week program from the mayor’s office, designed to help prevent crime. The initiative will provide three to five community events a week, 500 summer jobs for people ages 14-24 years old, and over 100 people canvassing neighborhoods with high crime rates. Courtney Scott, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, says the hardest part is getting the word out.

“We hear often that people are so unaware of the great resources that are in our community, so we’re actually going to these neighborhoods where we’re seeing the increases in violence to make sure that people are aware of the supports that are out there for them,” said Scott.

While most of the panelists at the forum agreed programs are most effective, Metro Council member Chauna Banks does not.

The public forum took place at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

“We have a lot of programming, we have a lot of money for these programs that you want other people to get involved with. I’m not necessarily an advocate for that because I don’t see where there is a proving ground to making a difference,” said Banks. “Our school system is the place where we see our future criminals and the opportunity between school and juvenile detention or adult prison are missed opportunities. "

While community leaders are still debating how to engage youth, they all agree something must be done.

“We notice a lot of these kids when they see people from other neighborhoods coming to their neighborhoods, it makes them feel warm that they do care. So we have to let them know that we do care. We have made mistakes too and we have changed our lives around too. So, it’s never too late,” said East Baton Sheriff Officer Anthony Ponton.

Event organizers say they plan to have more public forums in the future.

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