BR police to share timelier information on crime patterns

Many Baton Rouge residents soon will receive information from city police about patterns of predatory crimes in their neighborhoods shortly after they occur.

In a partnership propelled by a recent string of home invasions targeting elderly women, the Baton Rouge Police Department announced Thursday it will send information about crimes such as clusters of burglaries and home invasions directly to the Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations.

The federation then will disseminate the notices to the many homeowners associations that belong to the organization.

“We will reach 100,000 people in a very quick amount of time,” said Gary Patureau, a federation board member and a leader of the Sherwood Forest Citizens’ Association.

Patureau said he took the recent home invasion in his neighborhood personally.

In response, he said, he and others worked to develop the speedier communication system announced Thursday.

Police will send Patureau information about specific crimes, and Patureau will pass that information on to whichever homeowner’s associations might be affected by them.

The homeowners associations then will share the information with members through an alert system.

“It’s going to be a work in progress,” said Federation President Nancy Curry. “We have to smooth out some of the wrinkles as it progresses.”

The first phase will focus on crimes inside the city limits.

If it works, Patureau hopes to spread the system to the rest of the parish by bringing the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office in on the deal.

Many homeowners associations already have alert systems in place that text or email residents when a resident reports a crime to the association. But with the partnership, police will send out information about crimes as soon as possible after they happen, providing credibility and timeliness, Patureau said.

Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa, a Baton Rouge police spokeswoman, told representatives of several dozen Baton Rouge homeowners associations at a meeting at BREC’s Independence Park on Thursday night that one of the goals of the partnership is to improve community policing.

Godawa said the days when police knew everyone that lived in their patrol area are long gone, as Baton Rouge has grown over the decades.

She said she was hopeful that the partnership will improve police relations with neighborhoods and cut down on wild rumors during times of crisis.

Johnny Covington, director of security for the Runnymede Homeowner’s Association off Old Hammond Highway, said he’s glad police are getting actively involved with community policing. “I like this idea,” Covington said. “I hope they follow through with it.”

Rosa and Leroy Hill, of the Park Forest Homeowners Association off Greenwell Springs Road, said the alert system would have come in handy a few months ago when there was an incident at one of the neighborhood’s two schools.

Many neighbors didn’t know what was going on, and an alert system would’ve been nice, they said.