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New program aims to keep at-risk youth out of crime

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BATON ROUGE - A non-profit organization is taking a stance, and fighting crime by providing services and job opportunities for at-risk youth.

TRUCE, a Baton Rouge-based non-profit, is made up of elected officials, members of the District Attorney's office and others make up the organization in an effort to curb crime in the city.

The program's goal is to eliminate violence through providing social services and job opportunities for youth and young adults ranging from the age of 14 to 24 years old. 

TRUCE has made an appearance before, serving the Brookstown and Gus Young communities through what they've called community canvasses, where they would get feedback on issues in the community, pass out food, and have fun.

"Too much of the violence we see in Baton Rouge, is often driven by a meaningless, senseless dispute between some of the youth in our communities," said  Jeff LeDuff, a former Baton Rouge Police Chief and TRUCE board member.

Private investors, like Mike Wampold and Jim Bernhard, also helped with getting this organization on its feet.

"Anything we can do that will be proactive on crime prevention, lowering our crime rate, lowering our murder rate, which is what this is aimed at," said Wampold.

District Attorney Hillar Moore, also serves as a board member of TRUCE and says they want to reach the most at-risk youth and encourages anyone to bring someone they may know to receive services.

"Bottom line, we are hoping to get the young children from potentially being the trigger puller. And saving someone's life either through incarceration or from death," Moore said.

TRUCE differs from the defunct BRAVE program, which was law enforcement-based.

"We see some of these young kids who are at risk at juvenile court, and we see them in a truancy center... So we can get referrals here from juvenile court from the public defender's office from our own assistant DA's who see young kids going down the wrong way," Moore said.

The program has already helped several youths according to Angel Burgess, the program's executive director.

TRUCE headquarters is located at the Family Youth Service Center in Downtown Baton Rouge.

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