After year of record crime, several neighborhoods vote to renew crime prevention taxes
BATON ROUGE - Neighborhoods all over the capital area took their safety into their own hands this weekend, passing crime prevention tax renewals with big margins.
"Eighty-four percent of people in our neighborhood voted in favor of renewing the crime prevention district," said David Carnes, president of the Westminster Pine Park Crime Prevention District.
In Broadmoor, the 70-percent vote seemingly reflected the anxiety of residents during a record year for crime in the parish.
"Certainly, crime in East Baton Rouge Parish as a whole -- when you look at it -- is certainly on everybody's radar. The people that live in Broadmoor have been very blessed. We have 10 private police patrolmen," said Gary Littlefield, commissioner of the Broadmoor Crime Prevention District.
They credit those private patrols for their safe streets.
"We have one of the lowest per capita crime instances, whether that's home invasion, home burglary, or theft," Littlefield said.
But why pay more money for something that is already part of the bill for living in the city?
"It's an interesting question, since we're already paying taxes. Part of our ad valorem taxes every year for the police department and for our fire protection, etc.. Why do we need private police patrol when we're already paying for those services? If you dig in to that a little deeper, you find out pretty quickly that those policemen spend most of their time in other areas where crime is the worst," Littlefield explained.
BRPD says the officers who staff the private patrols are working extra duty and not being pulled from areas where crime is rampant. Their pay is supported by the tax.
In the very near future, some of the tax money in both neighborhoods will go toward crime cameras -- just like Sherwood Forest did earlier this month.
"That's something that we're considering," Carnes said. "It's a little pricey, but it's a good deterrent to crime."
The tax also includes room for neighborhood improvements like fixing up entrance signs and landscaping.
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