Police doubling manpower downtown
BATON ROUGE-Police expect to be able to double the number of officers patrolling the growing downtown area by October.
"We're just trying to get ahead of the curve so we don't neglect this area," Baton Rouge Police Lt. Johnny Dunnam said.
The force will expand from ten to twenty officers to meet the demand of new businesses and numerous residential developments either under construction or already opened in the area. Too few officers on patrol has been an issue because there are times during the night when no one is at the downtown station.
"Right now, the officers that work [at the downtown office] aren't here between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.," Dunnam said. "So that is three hours of time, officers from First District and Second District respond to calls downtown."
The extra officers will come from the 60 recruits expected to come through BRPD's academy this year. The downtown district covers roughly a nine by 16 block area.
"I think it's a great investment. With people feeling safe, more people will come," downtown resident Laura Rome said. "If I were to tell somebody two years ago where I lived, they gave me the fear in their eye. You could just see it. Like, 'who are your loved ones and why did they let you move downtown?'"
BRPD also plans to build a new precinct in the basement of Baton Rouge City Court to create space for the extra officers.
Other districts such as the 70805 area, which has been riddled with crime, will get an increase of officers as well, the department said Tuesday.