Officials hopeful future ‘Inspiration Center’ will help curb youth crime in Baton Rouge

Many people are tired of hearing about these new studies, collaborations, programs, and officials just throwing money at the issue.
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:58 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Many people are tired of hearing about these new studies, collaborations, programs, and officials just throwing money at the issue, in order to try and stop crime.

But will a new ‘Inspiration Center’ that officials broke ground on Tuesday afternoon see different results?

The new facility at Howell Community Park in Baton Rouge will look similar to what was done in other cities across the country.

It will provide the community with a football field, basketball gymnasium, game rooms, video game arena, recording studio bays, reading labs, computer labs, meeting spaces, space for local and state service providers, cafeteria and law enforcement officer room.

“One of the purposes for the investment is to offset the number of violent crimes that happen here,” said Clay Young, Chairman of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Foundation.

The Inspiration Center will be the first of its kind in Louisiana, with the goal of turning the city’s youth away from crime before it’s too late.

“It is going to involve a lot of different organizations so that these young people have a place to study, they’ll have a place to play, they’ll have a place to recreate, athletic facilities. But they’re going to be interacting in a positive way with law enforcement, they’re going to have their needs analyzed and evaluated,” said Governor John Bel Edwards (D).

The 34,000-square-foot center will be operated by the Boys and Girls Club and staffed by members of law enforcement, DCFS, and BREC programming.

Inspiration Center
Inspiration Center(WAFB)
Inspiration Center.
Inspiration Center.(WAFB)

Some familiar names like fallen BRPD Lt. Glenn Dale Hutto Jr. will have spaces inside the facility named after them as well.

“We have two computer labs, one named for Devin Page, one named for Allie Rice, video game arena, recording studio space on the inside as well, and then learning centers that Boys and Girls Club will operate,” said Young.

Other facilities like this have apparently been successful in places like Atlanta, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Young says Racine, Wisconsin experienced a 70% reduction in violent crime in the area surrounding their first center.

This is personal to State Police Colonel Lamar Davis who grew up in this neighborhood.

“I’ve seen all parts of this community, and quite frankly, I’ve seen it at its height and at its lowest. And it’s my desire to really work as hard as I can to get it back to its height,” said Colonel Davis.

The Governor is hopeful to take this model and bring it to other cities across the state after.

“Our goal is to get this first one built and then have smaller versions of it around Baton Rouge,” said Young.

But how do facilities like this actually help make a dent in the crime in Baton Rouge?

“And we know that when we reach our youth young, from education, faith, and all of those positive outcomes that come about when we reach our kids at a very early age. And that’s what the Inspiration Center’s going to do,” said Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul.

$5 million is coming from the State Capital Outlay Budget and more is coming through private donations.

Construction is expected to begin after the completion of the recreation center, swimming pool, and pool house by BREC.

Officials are hopeful the facility will be completed by the Fall of next year.

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