Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Mayor's office teaming up with state, federal partners to stop violence

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BATON ROUGE - Coming off a year of record homicides that don't seem to be slowing down, local leaders are turning to alternative methods to try and stop the violence.

Monday, the Baton Rouge Police Department announced new crime-stopping initiatives, including the use of SWAT teams and drones. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome introduced her own on Tuesday, ahead of a presentation to the Metro Council Wednesday.

"We know that public safety is a priority for my administration, for our council members and is a priority for our entire city and parish," she said.

Over an intensive eight-week workshop, the group will identify what needs to change when it comes to public safety.

"We're looking for best practices all over the United States and with federal partners, such as the Department of Justice, on this training that will help us in our constant goal to reduce violence in our community."

Leaders with the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office spoke Wednesday about the need to focus on specific areas where they say the majority of violent crimes occur.

"You're gonna see SRT, our SWAT," Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said. "You're going to see street crimes. You're going to see our federal partners. You're going to see drones. You're going to see helicopters. We're going to be very, very directed in our efforts."

Paul noted a big roadblock in making large-scale progress is the ongoing staffing shortage. Historically, the department carries about 50 vacancies according to Paul. Right now, that number stands around 100.

"We need boots on the ground for these strategies to work," Paul said. "We have to fill these vacancies. That is our number one priority."

It's somewhat of a similar story in the District Attorney Hillar Moore's office. Moore says his office is looking at restructuring to better handle the types of cases that seem to be coming in droves.

"[The] overwhelming majority of our cases now are gun-related, around 2500," Moore said. "Around 2500 domestic violence-related cases in someway or another. Our staff has not kept up with the changes."

Another improvement Moore and others say is necessary revolves around how to handle repeat offenders who are able to get back on the streets. 

"Judges have very difficult jobs to to do when they set a bond, because they have to weigh public safety and the crime that's before them, with presumed innocent and the right to a bail and a bond," Moore said. "We're gonna try to do a better job informing the judges as much as we can."

The mayor's office will work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to establish a three-year violence reduction plan involving the Department of Justice.

"They will come in and help our law enforcement community establish a strategic plan for violence reduction," Broome said.


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