Our Views: Crime stats show need

Beyond the heated politics concerning the recent firing of Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White, there remains much work to do in advancing public safety in Baton Rouge.

The urgency of that mission was underscored recently with the release of new statistics that show the continuing crime challenge in Baton Rouge.

Reported murders, rapes and robberies increased in Baton Rouge last year, although there was an overall decrease in major crimes when compared with 2011, according to the figures. One domestic-abuse expert suggested that reported rapes might have increased because more assaults are being reported, rather than more rapes actually occurring.

Property crimes dropped 4.66 percent, while violent crimes against people increased by 1.62 percent. Those categories combined accounted for a 3.65 percent decrease in major crimes, which police suggested was part of a long-term downward trend.

But murders increased from 64 in 2011 to 66 in 2012. A drop in murders in the second half of 2012 might indicate that a new program aimed at reducing violence in Baton Rouge’s most-troubled neighborhoods is working, although the brief existence of the program makes such a conclusion tenuous.

That program, the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination project, or BRAVE, brings together a number of agencies and civic groups, including law enforcement personnel, social-service workers and churches, in a targeted effort against repeat offenders.

Such collaboration suggests a useful acknowledgment that fighting crime in Baton Rouge can’t be a mission limited to law enforcement officials alone. The challenges of crime are big ones, and we’ll all have to do our parts to make a difference.