EBR Crime Statistics Sunday, Feb 19 2012 

Every 6 months or so, I read with great interest the crime statistics provided by East Baton Rouge Parish via our media outlets.  It’s one thing to say ‘the murder rate is down’; it’s entirely another task to understand the methologies and numbers as they really exist. 

Let’s discuss murders in 2011.  Understanding, of course, that we do not have access to all of the detailed data, we can read the archives of The Advocate and determine what is reported to the taxpayers of EBR Parish.

There are a lot of different statistics to consider: 

  • 81:  On Sunday, February 5, 2012, The Advocate reported there were 81 murders in EBR Parish (incorporated and unincorporated city limits). 

  • 64:  On February 18, 2012, The Advocate reports there were 64 murders in the incorporated city limits of the Red Stick, according to the BR Police Dept. 

  • 17:  Subtracting The Advocate’s report of 64 city murders vs. 81 parish murders equates to only 17 murder in the unincorporated portions of the parish.  (Unfortunately, the murders in the unincorporated sections of EBR Parish are not identified on the EBR Sheriff’s website.  (EBRSO stats are from 2009; a bit out of date guys!)

There are some flaws in the Uniform Crime Reporting as far as tracking crime.  I know this because I read the entire archives of The Advocate for 2011 and found more than 17 murders in the unincorporated portions of our parish. 

Though I do not believe all murders are storied in the daily newspaper, I do think those murders reported are actual.  Unfortunately, we are left to the tracking of law enforcement under the guidelines of Uniform Crime Reporting system which can make a significant determination in the method in which crimes are reported. 

The City of Baton Rouge has 227,818 residents in the city limits with 64 murders; 81 in the Parish.  New Orleans has 343,829 residents in their city limits, and UCR statistics show 105 murders in their city.   They have 66% more residents than we do, and we have 60% of the murders they have.  It puts things into perspective.

Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker stated last week while announcing his Mayorial intentions that Baton Rouge has crime equal or worst to New Orleans.  Earlier that same day,  Mayor-President Kip Holden stated that serious crimes were on the decline. 

Any way you cut it, we have a crime problem.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker recognizes, along with District Attorney Hillar Moore, that crimes are repeated by many of the same offenders. 

On the other hand, the percentage of those commiting the actual murders are often commiting only one murder each.  I certainly do not discount those repeat offenders that commit multiple murders; the numbers are simply smaller. 

Crime does escalate in the eye of a perpetrator.  Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Walker got it wrong by stating that we need to crack down on misdemeanors such as parking violations, etc. and keep a misdemeanor jail open 24/7.  Parking violators and such are not in the same league as those commiting crimes that escalate to violent crimes. 

Furthermore, Walker touted Baton Rouge Serial Killer Derrick Todd Lee as an example of a perpetrator that passed through the court system numerous times.  This was an unfortunate example to use because Lee’s crimes were of a much more serious nature.  We can’t compare stalking and masturbation outside of women’s bedroom windows with those individuals committing parking violations.

This gap in linking serious crimes with non-violent crimes that do not escalate concerns me greatly on Walker’s behalf, even though I am a fan of Walker and have respect for some of the intitiatives he has implemented during this political career.

I am digressing to the Mayor’s race, but if we are to look for the right candidate for the Office of Mayor-President while addressing the apparent spike in crime (regardless of crime statistics shared), we must find a candidate that is not a politician. 

Baton Rouge, and East Baton Rouge Parish, needs to address crime head-on and properly classify perpetrators, while admitting we have a huge, escalating crime problem in the Red Stick.

Who is that candidate? 

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

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Advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper Wednesday, Nov 16 2011 

They say honesty is the best policy.  In the case of Coroner Shannon Cooper, I might disagree — unless you are a voter in East Baton Rouge Parish who wants to understand just how he rolls. 

When I read yesterday’s Daily Report edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report, my first thought was that Coroner Shannon Cooper needed a new political consultant.

Cooper chose to reveal his true self by honestly responding as to his intention of how to deal with protestors that planned to show up at his office today: 

IGNORE THEM!

Cooper’s words spoke volumes as to how our Coroner really feels about the 7,000 to 8,000 families his office deals with annually.

Cooper’s words are powerful:

Cooper said he had no plans of speaking with any protestors that showed up his office today.

Where is the compassion for families who have lost loved ones? 

How much time would it have taken for Cooper to drive from the Baton Rouge General Hospital  or Surgical Specialty Center, where he is listed as a staff member?  Either one of these locations are less than 30 minutes away from the Coroner’s Office. 

Instead of taking a few minutes out of his private practice, Cooper takes the position that this is much ado about nothing. 

Try telling that to families who have lost their loved ones.

Is Cooper a man we want to re-elect? 

Can Cooper possibly explain to the voters and residents of East Baton Rouge Parish why he so cavalierly wrote off families who had legitimate questions? 

What about the Temple family who was there to ask why their son’s drivers license was found at the home of death investigator, Raymond Levie, in December, 2010?  Their son was killed in 2006. 

The Traylor family was also present at the protest.  Keith Traylor, the organizer of the protest, is the father of Jeremy who died of a drug overdose in 2009.  This family has suffered unbelievable heartaches because the Coroner misdiagnosed their son’s death, and changed the cause of death after they buried their son. 

Heartbreaking stories!

Nearly 50 families whose loved ones died in East Baton Rouge Parish, are not even aware of the fact that the drivers licenses, ID cards, and medications was stolen by death investigator Raymond Levie, taken to his home, and kept in body bags and closets. 

Maybe you know some of the families listed in the Baton Rouge Police Department Report?  Maybe you are one of those families?

Perhaps the most disconcerting issue is the fact that the Coroner claims he was unaware of these facts. 

This is not true according to the BR Police report.  That report states that 6 months prior to the murder-suicide that resulted in the death of Raymond Levie by Shawn Jones (who then turned the gun on himself)  at T. J. Ribs, the Coroner was contacted by the acting Police Chief in an effort to have Cooper come to his office to discuss numerous complaints and the contents of a search warrant performed on Levie’s home. 

The Coroner also dismissed the Police Chief by responding that if he wanted a meeting, he could come to his office because he wasn’t going to the Chief’s office.

That is arrogance in its highest form. 

I wonder which one of Cooper’s offices he was referring to? 

One thing I have learned through this story is that EBR Coroner Shannon Cooper doesn’t even go the Coroner’s Office most of the time.  I personally called all three of his offices to find out that he works as a pathologist outside of the Coroner’s Office — that he has turned over the reigns of the Coroner’s Office to his Chief Operating Officer, Don Moreau, who is the only person that is willing to even take your calls.

Clarification:  Though Cooper met with Traylor awhile back, he refused to supply their family with requested documents.  Furthermore, Cooper refused to acknowledge Traylor and other families on the day of their protest. 

According to the Traylor family, when they met with the Coroner, Moreau talked over Cooper and took over the meeting in short order, refusing to provide the family with documentation they requested.  This confirms who is really in charge at the Coroner’s Office, and it’s not Cooper!

What we have here is yet another politician who is glad to claim a title, the prestige of an elected office, to pick up a paycheck — but not show up to perform the duties he was elected by the people to do.  My understanding is that paycheck is significant – nearly $100,000 annually.  Pretty hefty check for someone who doesn’t show up! 

Instead of dismissing these families/protestors, perhaps it would have been in Cooper’s best interest to show up and take a moment or two to share a little compassion for these family members whose lives were turned upside down?

Instead, Cooper said:

It will be business as usual.

The EBRP Coroner’s Office is on call 24/7; they are charged with the responsibility of investigating untimely deaths, determining causes of death, and assessing whether individuals require commitment for further assessment or treatment that are mentally ill or drug dependent.

I have some advice for Coroner Shannon Cooper:

Keep your job at the Baton Rouge General and Surgical Center, because we prefer to elect someone who will show a little kindness, and commit to the responsibilities of their office!

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican

To Mrs. Levie, who responded to me in writing regarding this blog:  I have made two corrections, as noted in red above, to clarify statements. 

Regarding your question as to what good would it have done for Dr. Cooper to go out side and speak with the protestors, I would respond that he was elected to serve the public, and if a family asks for a second, or third meeting, it should be granted with the Coroner or one of his appointed representatives.  To not do so is to ignore the very families he claims he is mindful of on his website — those left behind.  They deserve nothing less.  I am saddened by the loss of all families who have lost loved ones whether by murder, suicide or drug overdoses.  My condolences to you.  Let’s hope that the new Coroner has a better open door policy.

EBRP Coroner’s Office Troubling Sunday, Oct 30 2011 

The Office of Coroner has caused me pause over the past few months.  While doing extensive research, I have been troubled at the facts that have come forth.  It all began with a friend who had trouble obtaining a death certificate investigated by the Coroner’s Office  in short order.  Evidently, the backlog of death certificates in the Coroner’s Office is pretty extensive. 

Then, without warning to the public, a death investigator was killed in a murder-suicide a few months ago at one of my favorite restaurants, T.J. Ribs.  It was a very sad story that slowly unfolded. 

Perhaps it was then that the public began to made aware of significant issues that seemed awry. 

According to The Advocate, both Coroner Shannon Cooper and Chief Operating Officer Don Moreau spoke on occasion with the death investigator, Raymond Levie, about his relationship with a mentally ill woman.  This fact was verified by Moreau and the Baton Rouge Police Department reports.

The Coroner’s Office website states they are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, to evaluate the mentally ill, chemically dependent and handle death investigations. 

Furthermore, their website states the conditions under which CEC’s (Coroners Emergency Certificates) are issued in order for a physician to perform a psychiatric evaluation of a patient under an Order of Protective Custody (OPC) ordered by the Coroner.

In the case of Raymond Levie, as a death investigator, who is on call 24/7 — 365 days a year, it appears that Levie took the liberty of getting involved with a mentally ill patient and went beyond the perimeters of his responsibilties by entering into a relationship with the patient.

What is more troubling is that the relationship was volitile and the mother of the patient repeatedly made efforts to put the death investigator’s personal involvement to a stop.  The Coroner and the Chief Operating Officer were both aware of the request for a restraining order, requested by the mother, and the fact that the death investigator continued the relationship.

As things unfolded, Coroner Shannon Cooper denied that the patient was mentally ill.   The truth is that the patient was mentally ill and perhaps chemically dependent according the BR Police Department reports.

In short order, we also learned that the deceased death investigator had a large amount of personal property taken from the scene of death investigations in his apartment.  Those items included drivers licenses, other types of ID’s, and medication. 

The Coroner should have either dismissed or placed the death investigator on probation, as he was made aware of the situation in December, 2010, when a search warrant was performed at the residence of the death investigator when the BR Police Chief requested that Coroner Shannon Cooper meet with him.

The death investigator died in June, 2011.  One must ask if action had been taken by the Coroner prior to that time if two unnecessary deaths could have been avoided?

Additionally, it was not until after the death of the investigator that The Advocate checked in to the situation further to learn that the medications and personal property of those investigated by the Coroner’s Office had been confiscated in the December 2010 search warrant. 

This caused Coroner Shannon Cooper to publicly state he would implement a ‘new’ policy aimed at better tracking of drugs removed from death investigations.

In response to this ‘new’ policy, The Advocate Editorial Staff issued an Opinion stating the policy should not be verbal, as stated by Cooper, but should be stated clearly in writing.

The fact that Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he was implementing a new policy is troubling at best.

With a little research into the Louisiana Constitution, I found a written policy already in existence, in fact it is the law:

  • RSS13:1551 – Part II Coroner – Subpart A General Provisions — 1567:  Retention of Decedent’s Person Effects — plainly states that the Coroner shall take charge of person effects and property of the deceased at the scene of death.  Once complete, the Coroner is to return the property to the lawful person and/or provide it to law enforcement in ongoing investigations. 

The law is clear already.  Coroner Shannon Cooper and his office personnel were in violation of a law that was already in effect.  It seems to me that by ‘reinventing a policy’ that is already law, Cooper has diverted the attention from the real issue. 

Furthermore, Ron Coe, Coroner for Livingston Parish, told The Advocate in February, 2005, that his investigators had collected medications worth thousands of dollars over the past six months and donated them to the St. Vincent de Paul Community Pharmacy.  At that time, Coroner Shannon Cooper stated he has implemented the same policy.  That was 6 years ago!  If that is the case, how did drugs find their way to the residence of a death investigator?

All of this is extremely disturbing.  Evidently Cooper has taken on the characteristics of Pinocchio during his effort to hold on to his post in a highly contested election that will continue to play out during a run-off set for November. 

Pinocchio is often a term used to describe an individual who is prone to telling lies, fabricating stories and exaggerating or creating tall tales for various reasons. 

The people deserve a Coroner that will enforce the laws that already exist  — one that is not prone to ignoring the laws, but enforcing them.  The Advocate had it right in their Opinion; however, the laws are already on the books.

This may be the tip of the iceberg.  Usually, where there is smoke, there is fire. The truth is that the story is a sad commentary on what is apparently going on behind the scenes at the EBRP Coroner’s Office. 

Unfortuantely, Coroner Shannon Cooper made a cognitive decision to ignore the law.  Is this the type of man we want to re-elect?

Until next time,

Red Stick Republican