Baton Rouge mayor asks for State Police help in dealing with violent crime
BATON ROUGE – In an unprecedented request for a mayor of this city, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said she will solicit the help of State Police to get a handle on violent crime.
Broome's remarks came during a sit-down interview with WBRZ and the station's chief investigative reporter, Chris Nakamoto. The WBRZ Investigative Unit was first to interview the mayor in a live interview focused mostly on crime amid an increase in violence on the streets. See an early clip attached to this story.
Broome said interim Baton Rouge Police Chief Jonny Dunnam reached out to State Police to ask for the help.
"We have communicated with State Police to ask for their assistance, and so we will be waiting to hear back," Broome said. "Things are very promising with State Police helping supplement manpower."
Asking for help to help keep a city safe was reminiscent of what we saw in 2014, when the City of New Orleans had a cadre of troopers come in to patrol the French Quarter after a string of shootings and violence. State Police reduced crime and executed hundreds of arrests while there.
The mayor said she wanted to get a message out to the community that the city-parish was working to tackle issues with a strong arm. About the interview, the mayor's office said she hoped to address “crime in the city, what the administration is currently doing/planning to do about this, programs that are currently in place, collaboration with law enforcement, etc.; as well as a call to action for the community, reiterating her statement earlier this week.”
Currently, Broome said the Street Crimes Unit is out on the streets nightly. She said the green light has also been given to move forward with 25 new crime cameras at a cost of $260,000. Where that funding will come from is still unclear, but Broome said she would raise the money herself from the business community if needed.
According to numbers released by the Mayor's Office, currently there are 636 officers on the streets of Baton Rouge. A full allotment is 698, and the department is 62 officers short right now. Broome said she wants to beef up the department to 750 eventually.
"Keeping this community, keeping this parish safe is a top priority of mine," Broome said. "We have a great city and parish. I want the citizens of this community not to be in fear."
Broome also pointed to the City's big blight problem that she inherited. She said work is currently being done to expedite it to clean up areas that are crime hot spots.
State Police issued the following statement regarding today's interview:
"No specific request has been made by Mayor Broome regarding Troopers patrolling the city of Baton Rouge. However, we are engaged in ongoing conversations with the Mayor and all of the East Baton Rouge Parish law enforcement leaders including Chief Dunnam, Sheriff Gautreaux, the other city police chiefs, campus police chiefs and the City Constable regarding violent crime in the parish. We all have a vested interest in the safety of the citizens of the greater Baton Rouge area and are committed to this community. The Louisiana State Police already maintains a robust presence in the parish with our Baton Rouge based Headquarters, patrol operations at Troop A, criminal investigators including taskforce officers and those assigned to the EBRVCU. The ongoing discussions have been centered around how we can leverage our available resources and those of the other agencies to significantly impact violent crime individually and collectively through proactive patrols, undercover operations and community engagement. More information will be released at the appropriate time."
The lengthy interview was shown live on WBRZ's various streaming news platforms: cable channel 11, WBRZ.com and Facebook Live Friday morning. Watch the interview on demand on the WBRZ Facebook page.