Here we go again! The local East Baton Rouge Crime Commission, according to Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, “is a dead issue” for voters of our parish in the Spring. More bureaucracy, more delays to address one of the most critical issues of our parish — CRIME!
The Crime Commission includes law enforcement agency heads, the District Attorney, a Metro Council representative and the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ Mayor-President’s office (who originally balked at the idea because it was not his own, claiming he addressed some of the issues in his past tax issues.)
No doubt, we have a huge crime problem in East Baton Rouge Parish. Residents of the Red Stick have made this a daily conversation at the dinner table, water cooler, twitter, facebook, etc. It’s a huge concern for anyone living in our parish.
For some time, I have addressed the serious crime issues of our parish, and my personal concern as I watched an escalating problem in the Red Stick. All you have to do is view the murder rate map at The Advocate to see how serious the murder rate alone has become for our parish.
The EBR Parish Crime Commission has discussed issues many issues such as:
- Building a new prison at a cost of $165 million – an issue I absolutely do not understand. When Sheriff Sid Gautreaux was elected, he clearly stated that he would increase the beds and capacity at the current prison through modular housing by aggressively pursuing federal grants. (The Advocate, September 30, 2007, Sheriff Candidates Differ on Details) This promise has not happened!
- Creating a new Juvenile Services Facility at a cost of $45 million. This is an initiative of District Attorney Hillar Moore.
- A new/shared Public Safety Headquarters housing the Baton Rouge Police Department and the EBR Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $102 million.
- Increasing space for a Addiction Treatment Facility at a cost of $2.5 to $5.5 million (a widely proposed cost with no definitive cost).
- Additional funding for the District Attorney’s Office at $5 million. This expense also includes ‘other unspecified operation costs for other law enforcement agencies’. (Costs that should be clarified down to the penny!)
There is a lot of complexity in the facts surrounding these proposed public safety (crime) infrastructure improvements such as land that was purchased by the city parish that has yet to have been used, lease agreements, donated land, money owed to the city parish by some agencies, the precise size of facilities yet to be agreed upon, etc.
Side issues that were also considered: a Truancy Jail, a Misdemeanor Jail, and taking over the soon-to-be-abandoned Woman’s Hospital as a Public Safety Headquarters.
To add insult to one part of this plan is the fact that Sheriff Sid Gautreaux says that it will take $1 million annually to operate a new Parish Prison, which he does not have in his annual operating budget.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, one of the largest failings of the Crime Commission aka Crime Prevention Committee was to include the Judges that rule the bench and the Legislators from our parish.
We can complain about crime while law enforcement arrests offenders, but it is the Legislators that create the laws governing our parish and the Judges that enforce those laws.
Until we include everyone that has a say in the laws and sentencing of criminals, we are putting a band-aid on the problem of crime in our parish.
If a perpetrator commits murder, it is up to the laws of the land and the interpretation and enforcement of those laws that really matter.
Judges, the District Attorney and Law Makers are key to carrying out the proper sentences before a perpetrator stands before a Judge and/or Jury. If the law doesn’t have enough bite, if the DA doesn’t go for the strongest sentence possible, and if the Judge doesn’t rule to keep the perpetrators in jail until and after sentencing, we are wasting our time on the other issues.
I am sorely disappointed that we have yet to find a Mayor-President for this parish that will make public safety the #1 priority. All of the false campaign promises of a Sheriff that promised to increase housing at the prison and a Mayor that said we will not tolerate crime has worn my patience thin.
All the while, criminals are trolling our city committing horrific crimes on our citizens. Once arrested, if they are identified, they are bonded out by Judges and allowed to serve menial sentences that put them back on the streets to commit more crime.
Any law enforcement officer worth his salt, will tell you that the majority of perpetrators are repeat offenders. When will we address the heart of the problem?
It begins with the law and is followed by the Judges that we must hold accountable.
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican