Baton Rouge mayor issues scathing response to ominous police union billboards
BATON ROUGE - EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released a statement Thursday criticizing the Baton Rouge police union over billboards that warned visitors to enter the city "at your own risk."
The statement comes after billboards went up Wednesday seemingly criticizing the city's response to a rise in violent crime. Last week, Police Chief Murphy Paul said the city was outpacing last year's homicide rate at this same time by more than a dozen.
On Wednesday, another shooting left two people dead off Plank Road.
These are the 2 new digital billboards the Baton Rouge police union put up regarding an uptick in crime. Though no one with the union will do an interview with me, I was told the message is that crime is not being fairly portrayed, and the city needs to know this info. @WBRZ pic.twitter.com/23jslex9TO— Sydney Kern (@sydneykern) July 16, 2020
The mayor called the union's decision to put up the billboards "unfortunate" and remarked that the union "could have donated the money spent on these billboards to anti-violence programs."
The Baton Rouge Union of Police is separate from the Baton Rouge Police Department, whose chief was appointed by the mayor.
You can read the full statement from the mayor-president below.
It is unfortunate the police union is choosing to throw stones and disparage our community. The BR Police Union is clearly not serious about making Baton Rouge a better place to live. If they were, they could have donated the money spent on these billboards to anti-violence programs in Baton Rouge. I know the rank and file members of the Baton Rouge Police Department are serious about making our city safe however, and I look forward to working with them to achieve this goal. Furthermore, on the FBI's crime statistics website, the federal agency specifically cautions against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities, writing:
"Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents."
Here's the facts: throughout our country, we have experienced a downward trajectory of violent crime over the past few decades. Violence is a challenge throughout the Southern United States and Baton Rouge is no different.
I am focused on addressing root causes of violence, specifically by empowering and investing in our disinvested communities. I call on the police union to stop the divisive advertising actions and unite with me and the members of the BRPD around this shared goal, rather than attempting to divide our community.
Here is what we have accomplished since I took office:
· Homicides dropped 10% from 2017 to 2018, and dropped another 12% from 2018 to 2019.
· Violent crime is down 11% from 2017 to 2019.
· Robbery is down 16% from 2017-2018 and down another 11% from 2018-2019.
· Burglary, a property crime, dropped 17% from 2017-2018, and dropped another 16% from 2018-2019
Louisiana is among the poorest states in the country with among the highest rate of incarcerations. Bottom line we are not going to arrest our way out of our challenges. We must invest further in social services.
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