Amid homicide spike, EBR using millions in federal aid to address gun violence
BATON ROUGE - Having already surpassed the record for homicides in a year, city-parish leaders plan to spend $14.2 million on curbing violence in the latest batch of funding from the American Rescue Plan.
"Policing, stopping gun violence programs," Darryl Gissel, Chief Administration Officer for the city-parish, said. "There are a number of national models that have proven [successful] in other areas of the country, and we're bringing some of those programs to Baton Rouge."
Wednesday, the Metro Council is expected to sign off on how to spend the $73 million in federal aid. Earlier this year, East Baton Rouge received its first pot of cash, $22 million, through the American Rescue Plan.
Of the $14.2 million going towards violence prevention, $1.8 million will cover technology upgrades within the Baton Rouge Police Department, including license plate readers and crime cameras.
Another $3.3 million is allocated for gun violence reduction strategies in problem areas of the parish. Gissel says one of those programs, Placed Network Investigations or PNI, will focus on specific neighborhoods.
"It will look at those hotspots to examine what is creating the issue," Gissel said. "Is it a business? Is it an abandoned house issue? Is it drug activity? What in there is creating an environment that helps generate crime activity?"
Gissel says these funds will allow for the Police Athletic League to return after decades of being defunct. The program aims to bring together law enforcement and youth.
Another $8 million will go towards buying nearly two hundred new marked and unmarked police units and motorcycles. The department needs 150 new units each year to stay up to date, Gissel says. Bringing in new units will also cut back on the millions spent on maintenance.
"Any of those maintenance dollars that can be reprogrammed can go to police pay raises," Gissel said.
Beyond crime prevention, $20 million, the largest chunk of the funds, will go towards drainage maintenance and improvements.
To see how the administration plans to spend the rest of the funds, click here.
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