BATON ROUGE - The Baton Rouge Police Department is progressing with its microtargeting strategies to reduce crime-filled neighborhoods. So far, the strategies are revealing concerns over repeat offenders and juvenile gangs recruiting in classrooms.
Plans for advanced microtargeting were announced during a press conference held with city officials after a wave of violence shed light on eight different gangs around the city of Baton Rouge. The conference was held shortly after the murder of Allie Rice.
L'Jean McKneely with BRPD explained that microtargeting involves officers from most of their divisions: detective, aviation, street policing, and tactical measures.
Another key aspect of the program looks to police intelligence to identify what kind of crime is happening and which areas are seeing the most of it.
"The information that we get from our research, all the data that we have, we do an analysis on," McKneely said. "We use that data to push us in the right direction of where we should go and who we should target. We're targeting specific areas and specific people."
McKneely says violent crimes are starting and spreading through a number of dangerous individuals, so the idea is to take down the sources of power by doing in-depth investigations on who they are and how they're affecting the surrounding communities.
As part of tracking that data and creating intelligence to better identify hard-hit areas, the department uses tips and calls from concerned community members and victims of crime. He says as far as crime goes, they're seeing a number of offenses.
"It's about the number of calls we get in a particular area and the types of calls we get in that area... if they're violent calls, burglaries, public assistance calls, we look at all of that, and from there we judge what proactive patrol we should partake in.
"We're seeing a mix of everything, from violent crimes, you have burglaries which are property crime... so we have our detectives go in and canvas the area."
He says part of the problem is the individuals committing the offenses. McKneely says the number of juveniles getting pulled into gang violence is increasing, and that some of it stems from the school system.
"We're working in the school systems, we know that they're in the schools. We know that they're recruiting in the schools. We're pushing forward with an attempt to identify those players, make contact with them, and change their behavior. Those that are committing crimes, they will be held accountable, they will be going to jail."
He says some individuals are pushing gang-like agendas on teenage students.
"Definitely teenage and early twenties, we know that for a fact, we know that they're in the schools, and we're working with our local schools to address those issues."
BRPD says they're working with the EBR school system to identify ways of stopping gang behavior in juveniles before it becomes serious and reduce recruitment going on in schools. McKneely says officers are already in some charter schools in Baton Rouge.
The number of repeat offenders getting booked for violent crimes is also an increasing concern. Officials with the police department say part of the problem stems from the judicial system. Previous reports from the Investigative Unit uncovered where the District Attorney's office is having issues and has for some time.
District Attorney Hillar Moore said this problem is complex.
"We have seen oftentimes repeat offenders that are out on multiple bonds," Moore said. "They get out very quickly because possibly a judge doesn't know the extent and history, and they have that amount of cash in their pocket that they walk around with to pay for $100k or $200k bond. That's a failure in the system."
Moore acknowledges his office has a lot of information at their fingertips, but sometimes it doesn't make it to the judges.
The problem once again became prevalent in the capital city. In nearly just the past two weeks, two repeat offenders were booked on murder charges.
On the 24th of September, Luke Simmons was booked after shooting a victim while he was out on bond. Almost a year prior, he was booked for murdering a victim on Spanish Town Road. His history of serious offenses dates back to 15 years ago. In 2007, he was charged with murder, only for prosecutors to drop the charges.
Derian Bailey was convicted of murder back in 2012 and was let out on high bond, only to commit another murder just two weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, Chief Murphy Paul said there have been over 3,100 felony arrests this year so far, with 355 of them being juveniles.
Over the next couple of weeks, BRPD will work strategically to microtarget communities to further identify and investigate violent crime offenders in several regions where violence is at an all-time high.
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