East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux is assigning 25 deputies to supplement the work of five elite Baton Rouge police officers under a new plan targeting the city’s worst crime hot-spots.
To enhance collaboration between the two agencies, Gautreaux said, he also is granting those five Baton Rouge police officers parishwide jurisdiction, making their work in certain high-crime areas such as Glen Oaks, Scotlandville, Gardere and Burbank more efficient.
“Listen, we don’t know exactly where this is going to be three years from now, four years from now,” Gautreaux said. “But I can tell you, without us making all the efforts possible and without the community involvement, I can definitely tell you where we’re going to be and it’s not going to be a position any of us want to be in.”
Modeled on the nationally successful CeaseFire community policing program, the city-parish’s new plan, called Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination, or BRAVE, aims to quell violence using a multi-faceted approach.
One key element involves the police fostering positive relationships with the law-abiding majority of the community, to embolden them to report criminal activity they know about in their neighborhoods despite the pervasive fear of retaliation from criminals and distrust of law enforcement.
Another key part of BRAVE is offering criminals opportunities for GED or community college classes, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, job placement, vocational technical training and other social services.
“That’s really what we should be doing — not building more jails, but changing behavior,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said. “Take people who have a problem and get them on the right track so they can have a productive, meaningful life.”
Noting some dire statistics for his Parish Prison inmates — on average, they have a seventh-grade education and either drug or alcohol dependency — Gautreaux said the BRAVE program needs more-sophisticated statistical analysis than law enforcement can provide.
Even though both the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department create maps to analyze where the most shootings and other crimes are occurring, the BRAVE program needs comprehensive data analysis that also takes into account economic and social conditions in the neighborhoods, Gautreaux said.
Authorities will find out in September or October whether BRAVE has won a $1.5 million grant to fund extensive research and statistical analysis by LSU, said District Attorney Hillar Moore III.
As a starting point, analysts from the law enforcement agencies this summer will undertake a thorough analysis of the past year’s fatal and non-fatal shootings, Moore said.
If the grant is awarded, LSU associate vice chancellor Matthew Lee said, his research team would use “spacially-based analysis” to help predict where crime may be shifting, to determine what interventions are working, and to examine cliques of youngsters who tend to influence each other into violence.
“One of the most important elements of this program is the social network analysis component where we can identify groups of offenders that are linked together through social networks, and determine, based on mathematical modeling, what might be the best way to disrupt that criminal group,” Lee said.
Both White and Gautreaux emphasized that whether or not the grant money comes through, they will sustain community policing.
The sheriff’s 25 deputies will be working in all crime hot-spots, Gautreaux said, as well as supplementing the five BRAVE police officers who are focusing solely on the north Baton Rouge 70805 ZIP code — an area generally bounded by Airline Highway to the north and the east, the Mississippi River to the west and Choctaw Drive to the south.
Gautreaux said the 25 deputies he is assigning to help with BRAVE are from: the Special Community Anti-Crime Team, led by Capt. Rodney Walker; the Community Policing Unit, led by Lt. Todd Parker; the K-9 Unit, led by Capt. James Broussard; the Crime Analysis Unit, led by Lt. Denise Boudreaux; and the Emergency Service Unit, led by Capt. Todd Martin.