New BRPD task force to heighten night patrol in high crime areas
BATON ROUGE- The Baton Rouge Police Department established a new task force to keep the community safe following a spike in crime and COVID in the area.
Sgt. L'Jean Mckneely, public information officer with BRPD, said they are patrolling areas that have been hotspots for large gatherings and violence in recent weeks.
Amid a global pandemic, dozens of mask-less people gathered on South Boulevard near the I-10 overpass Friday night.
Although the state remains in Phase 2 of reopening with gatherings and public events limited, even bars completely closed, many are continuously disobeying those rules and guidelines. Some are even disobeying the law as police say several of these gatherings have led to fights or shootings.
"Chief Murphy Paul initiated additional police officers to be assigned in these high traffic areas to curve that type of behavior," Sgt. Mckneely said. "We are out there with enforcement, we're not harassing anybody. We want to make sure that everyone is safe and that they keep moving along."
Mckneely said the unsettling amount of violence that has happened in the capital area over the past few weeks pushed the department to make a change. He said they intend to peacefully disperse large crowds with the new, 30-35 person unit, to avoid these dangerous, sometimes fatal situations.
"We understand that there's restlessness within Baton Rouge and younger folk want to do different things and they don't want to stay inside," Mckneely said. But at the same time, there are rules and boundaries that we expect everyone to follow."
The officer told WBRZ that just a few weeks ago, there were eight individuals shot and one killed on the corner of Plank Road and Evangeline Street, which is one of the high-traffic patrol areas. The other hot spot with a newly heightened police presence is downtown.
Following countless crimes and outcry from the community, Mckneely said the task force was put together to keep everyone safe.
We were doing this enforcement but not to this degree. After that occurred, after the outcry from the community task force put together to keep everyone safe.