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Long-sought cameras one step closer to becoming a reality in Sherwood Forest

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BATON ROUGE - On any given afternoon, traffic can be heavy on Sherwood Forest Boulevard. Other than that, the Sherwood Forest neighborhood is relatively quiet. 

"Used to not have any problems here," Greg Bradley said. "It was quiet."

Bradley has lived in the neighborhood for 38 years but says over the past seven or eight things have changed.

"It's not like we don't have crime," Bradley said. We have break-ins, robberies, and shootings. Getting more shootings than we used to have."

In an effort to tamp down on crime, the Sherwood Forest Crime Prevention District was formed in 2015. Homeowners pay a yearly fee of $75. That money goes towards security patrols and other neighborhood improvements.

The latest improvement that will be included in the fee already collected: cameras and license plate readers. 

The district has been working towards getting cameras since its creation. The 2016 flood delayed the effort, but Wednesday, the Metro Council could approve the installation of a camera and license plate readers at each of the neighborhood's 16 entrances. 

"Hopefully it will help out," Bradley said. "I have a lot of confidence it will help out."

In Bradley's nearly four decades living here, he has seen thieves target the homes of his neighbors, leading him to install a camera of his own a couple of years ago. He calls the neighborhood-wide program welcome news.

"Like I said, it should help them catch whoever did it," Bradley said. "Like over there."

The 'over there' Bradley is referring to is Brookshire Avenue. That is where Nessa Hartley was shot and killed in January 2019. Her murder, which remains unsolved, led to increased calls for cameras to be installed.

"If the camera was there and saw what happened or at least saw somebody go up and down the street at 10:00 at night after somebody got killed," Bradley said. "You know, they can figure out stuff pretty good with cameras these days."

While Bradley obviously doesn't want violent crime to make its way into Sherwood Forest, he's looking forward to these cameras aimed at carving out crime where he lives.

"I think they'll do a lot of good," Bradley said. "I mean we need something. We need a lot of help over here."

The district's current security patrol will monitor the cameras, and the Baton Rouge Police Department will also have access to them through the Real Time Crime Center.

If approved, the cameras and readers should be operational by this summer.

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