Update:  Mayor-President Kip Holden has finally recognized the alarming crime rate in Baton Rouge.  Voters have spoken in local forums held by the mayor to discuss challenges plaguing the Red Stick.  In response, Holden tells The Advocate:  “I can tell you that we have to make this city cleaner, we have to do something about the crime that primarily (is) going on in the inner city.”  Unfortunately, the mayor is focusing on teaching our children more about the “evils of trash”than the evils of crime.  Although littering is a concern, we already have programs in place including the one Secretary of State Dardenne instituted.  Let’s hope Holden will develop programs for our childen that will educate them about crime.

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Crime statistics show that 99 murders took place in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2008.  No, this is not an error.  Total reading and a little math is required to determine the cause of murders in the Red Stick including:  75 by gunfire, 15 via drunken or accidental driving, 6 by knife, 1 beaten to death, 1 hit in the head, and 1 self-defense by shooting. 

According to The Advocate, the murders were committed for varying reasons including domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, revenge, road rage, robbery, drive-by shootings, and nightclub brawls.  Some indicate unknown reasons. 

The youngest victim was 3 years old and the oldest victim was 61 years of age.  The majority seem to fall in the 20-30 year range.  A couple extremely heartbreaking stories include children dying at the hands of troubled or angry parents. 

Also troubling is the fact that murders have taken place from across the North end of the parish in Zachary to Downtown Baton Rouge, and from the East to the West sides of EBRP.  No area except for the extreme southern part of the parish seems unscathed. 

Areas not so accustomed to murders including Goodwood, N. Harrells Ferry Road, Bluebonnet, Chimes Street, Brogdon, and Laurel Street proves that crime is rampant and murderers are moving freely throughout the Red Stick. 

Perhaps this is why the BR Business Report’s poll results of February 5, 2009, indicated that residents do not feel safe regardless of crime statistics. 

A quick count indicates 36 of last year’s murderers remain free to roam our streets.

Recent trouble in the leadership of the EBR Sheriff’s Office caused Lt. Colonel Ricky Adams to leave his post after only serving one year as the right hand second-in-charge position under Sheriff Sid Gautreaux due to an internal debacle. 

Meanwhile the only time the most powerful law enforcement officer in EBR Parish, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, has mentioned crime statistics in his first year in office had been in response to murders in the Gardere area.   Troubling.

I am also troubled by expenditures by the Sheriff for new uniforms vs. ‘crime fighting’ equipment or tools to combat crime in our parish.  Where is the promise to put more deputies on the road?  Yes, I am aware the new fashionable look was funded by a grant from the Pennington Foundation. 

Wouldn’t the parish be better served with a $632,000 expenditure to increase patrols, replace equipment or buy more patrol units? 

Do you believe that Pennington would have turned down an opportunity to increase safety for our parish for more appropriate expenditures?  I think not.  Pennington has been all about making our parish better, not just cosmetically, but in a lasting way. 

Is this the priority of our chief law enforcement officer for EBR Parish?  Uniforms?  New logos?  Different colors?  Is this money wisely spent?

According to costs cited last April by former sheriff Phares, the cost of patrol units were estimated at $21,200 each.  This grant could have purchased nearly 30 additional units for our hard working deputies in uniform patrol to cover EBR parish.  Where are our priorities?

99 murders is cause for alarm.  Statistics on the EBR Sheriff’s Office website have not been updated since the 2nd quarter of 2008.  Where is the Mayor on this issue?  Why do we not hear from him on such an alarming issue?  Is it time for the Red Stick to merge forces of the BRPD and EBRSO in the creation of EBRP Metro Police? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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