BRAVE pinpoints targets for call-in meeting

Law enforcement from across East Baton Rouge Parish traded information about the area’s most-dangerous locations and criminals Monday and Tuesday during a meeting with staff from the University of Cincinnati and representatives from the Cincinnati Police Department.

The meeting was held to help partners in the Baton Rouge Violence Elimination project pinpoint who to invite to its first call-in with targeted offenders in the 70805 ZIP code, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said.

It also was a chance for area law enforcement to learn more about the focused deterrence model under which BRAVE will operate, Moore said.

The model is based on the premise that a majority of violence stems from respect issues, rather than from drug-related conflicts, said Robin Engel, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati and director of the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute.

To stem such conflicts, the group dynamic is disrupted by identifying and honing in on the “key actors” who generate the majority of violence within a community, said Engel, who led the two-day meeting with BRAVE partners.

The key actors are invited to a call-in where authorities will deliver a clear message that if the violence continues, police will come down hard on the entire group, Engel said.

The key actors invited to the call-in will be told to relay the message to others in their circle, she said.

“This is not just an academic exercise,” Engle said. “If focused deterrence is done properly, it works.”

In Cincinnati, where a focused deterrence model was implemented in 2007 after the city saw a record number of homicides, a decline in violence was seen within months, she said.

During a 3½ year period after the implementation of the model, gang or group-related homicides dropped 41 percent, Engel said. All shootings declined 22 percent.

Lt. Col James Whalen, of the Cincinnati Police Department, said sustained results like those experienced in Cincinnati create legitimacy within the community and the Police Department.

“The officers see the directness and understand the efficiency of the model,” he said. “They really have become its best advocates.”

Moore said he saw a tremendous amount of “buy-in” among local law enforcement during Monday and Tuesday’s meeting as they huddled around maps that highlighted the most-violent areas in the community and discussed what they knew about East Baton Rouge Parish’s most-violent criminals.

“It was really pleasing to see all of the agencies be so prepared and to see the vastness of their knowledge of the worst people and places,” Moore said. “It showed me that these officers who are actually on the street working these cases can see that this approach works.”

The work done in this week’s meeting with Engel and the Cincinnati Police Department representatives will prepare BRAVE partners for its first call-in, which could happen at the end of this year or the beginning of next year, Moore said.

At the call-in, those law enforcement have identified as bad actors with a history of committing acts of violence will be presented with two options — swift and severe punishment if they continue to commit crimes, or change their ways and seek help
to better their lives, Moore said.

If the offenders choose the former course, members of two BRAVE patrol teams will find them, arrest them and put them in jail, Moore said.