A recent Advocate story underscored the peril and the promise of the campaign against crime in Baton Rouge.
On the evening of June 21, the same night as a 24-year-old man was severely wounded in a shooting near Greenwell Springs and Lobdell Boulevard, residents in the same area met to discuss ways to reduce violent crime.
The citizens gathering took place in the 70805 ZIP code area, a part of north Baton Rouge particularly plagued by crime problems. Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White and other top police officers hosted the meetings as part of a new crime-prevention strategy that emphasizes citizen involvement.
That kind of citizen involvement is important in fighting crime anywhere in Baton Rouge. What’s more, everyone in Baton Rouge has an interest in the success of crime-fighting efforts in the 70805 ZIP code area. Crime anywhere in Baton Rouge threatens the social stability of the entire city. White and his top officers are trying to build more trust with law-abiding residents in the 70805 area. Baton Rouge Police Lt. Todd Lee acknowledged that some residents of the area are afraid to report crime because they fear retaliation. But meetings such as the one hosted by White and his department suggest that there’s strength in numbers.
Vernon Sanders Sr., a 71-year-old resident who attended the meeting, said he was ready to help police as much as he can.
“They can’t do it all by themselves,” he said. “They need help from the neighborhood folk.”
Sanders is right, of course. We hope that his neighbors take his message to heart. We also hope that White’s message to residents represents a long-term commitment to true partnership between police and residents of high-crime areas.