By Kimberly Vetter
Advocate Staff Writer
October 21, 2012
OCCUPATION: Director of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination project.
Herbert ‘Tweety’ Anny, a Baton Rouge Police officer and chaplain, was named director of BRAVE in June. He has been with the department in various capacities since 1990. Before that, he worked with his father as a plumber in Ascension Parish. Anny graduated from St. Amant High School in 1979 and attended Southeastern Louisiana University on a music scholarship.
What is the Baton Rouge Violence Elimination Project?
BRAVE is a localized version of a nationally recognized project to reduce serious violent crime. The project has been proven effective in cities such as Oakland, Calif.; Los Angeles; Boston; Newark, N.J.; Milwaukee; High Point, S.C.; Cincinnati; and Providence, R.I., reducing homicides and serious violent crimes in those areas by 30 to 60 percent. It incorporates three components — the community, social service providers and law enforcement — working together to offer alternatives to people who are committing violent crimes in hopes of changing their behavior.
Why is BRAVE targeting the 70805 ZIP code and will it expand to other parts of the city?
Prior to the development of BRAVE, statistical information indicated that 30 percent of homicides, 40 percent of aggravated assaults with firearms, and 25 percent of robberies that occurred in Baton Rouge had ties to the 70805 ZIP code. Statistics also show that the ZIP code had the highest concentration of serious violent crimes. Once BRAVE has proven successful, other areas of the city will be addressed. In the meantime, BRAVE patrol teams are collecting intelligence on criminal activity that will be beneficial in future endeavors.
What are the root causes of crime in this community?
The primary root causes for crime in our city are poverty, illiteracy, lack of positive role models, and certain musical content that advocates violent crime. In addition, there is an ever increasing number of single mothers and grandparents who are attempting to raise children on limited incomes. Of equal importance, positive male role models are in dire need.
What has the BRAVE team done since being created and what are some of its immediate goals?
At present, BRAVE is assembling all its resources. In addition, we are establishing structure and organization within our previously mentioned components. Short-term goals include the reduction of youth violence in the 70805 ZIP code, a reduction in gun offenses and arrests, engagement and involvement of the community, a moral message to be delivered consistently from faith-based partners, and an increased effectiveness of law enforcement. Long-term goals will show a sustained reduction in violence in the area, the community’s perception of police legitimacy changed, and sustained community engagement and involvement with the “No Violence” message.
What does the team need from the community?
In the past, a portion of the community has been abiding by a tradition of “no snitching.” As a result, many crimes go unsolved. Some crimes can be prevented if members of the community report disputes or beefs between individuals before they escalate to serious crimes of violence. People can inform police anonymously without fear of retaliation through Crime Stoppers. In brief, the community can love their neighbors as themselves by taking appropriate action and reporting crime to make Baton Rouge a better place to live.
When will the community start seeing results?
The community will start seeing results after the first call-in is conducted. A call-in is when members of the BRAVE team offer help to those who are most likely to be involved in the next homicide or serious violent crime. The BRAVE team is receiving assistance from consultants who are experienced in what we are trying to accomplish. We will not initiate our first call-in until our consultants say we are ready, which could be later this year or at the beginning of next year.
Advocate staff writer Kimberly Vetter