September 08, 2012
The presence of a front-page story in a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal that outlined Baton Rouge’s epidemic of murders should be a wake-up call for everyone in this community.
The Journal profiled a number of U.S. cities, including Baton Rouge, that are plagued by high numbers of murders in which young black men are killing other young black men. That problem is far from exclusive to Baton Rouge, obviously, but as the Journal pointed out, violent crime affects everyone in a community, even those far beyond the poor neighborhoods where such crimes take place.
Here’s a telling paragraph from The Journal’s article, reported by Cameron McWhirter and Gary Fields:
“People who dismiss high homicide rates in poor, mostly black neighborhood’s as someone else’s problem ignore the cost to society, from police efforts to social services for victims’ families, said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington, D.C., think tank that conducts research on criminal justice initiatives. His group calculated the national cost for gun homicides alone in 2010 was more than $43 billion. That encompasses victim costs like lost productivity and medical care, as well as costs for police, prosecution, courts and prison. It also includes costs to the offender’s family.”
As of Friday, there had been 73 murders committed in East Baton Rouge Parish so far this year. By the end of August last year, East Baton Rouge Parish had recorded 56 murders. The total number of murders in the parish for 2011 was 81.
Baton Rouge law enforcement officials have recently joined with churches, civic groups and other interested parties in an attempt to reduce violence in the toughest neighborhoods of Baton Rouge. Similar efforts have seemed successful in other cities, and we hope those efforts prove helpful in Baton Rouge. We’re glad that this initiative was mentioned in The Wall Street Journal article. This new effort sends a message that Baton Rouge isn’t simply accepting the high level of black-on-black violence as an inevitable reality.
However, getting front-page coverage in the nation’s leading business journal for high levels of violent crime isn’t the most promising signal that Baton Rouge can send to potential investors.
That’s all the more reason, we believe to get our crisis of crime under control.