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Baton Rouge crime rates soar, says FBI

Newly released statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that Baton Rouge crime numbers surpassed those of nearby New Orleans. That city, which is often maligned for its high crime rates, actually had a lower rate of violent crimes when compared to the Baton Rouge metro area. New Orleans' violent crime rate was about 800 per 100,000 residents, while Baton Rouge had about 1,065 per 100,000. Those violent crimes include forcible rape, robbery, assault and aggravated assault, among others.

Using simply uncorrected numbers, Baton Rouge's rape cases seem less significant than those of its southern neighbor; Baton Rouge only had 51 reported rapes, while New Orleans reported nearly 200. This, however, is misleading, according to experts. Baton Rouge's population is significantly smaller than that of New Orleans.

Representatives from the city say that the crime rate is far worse than previously imagined. In the past year, it appears that the violent crime rates have intensified significantly, and officials are unwilling to comment about the causes.

Several campaigns have been developed so far to combat the increasingly dangerous situation in the city, including the "Fight, Not Fear" initiative. That campaign was developed and launched in Louisiana's capitol city just last week, according to local media reports, and it attempts to unify the efforts of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office and the Baton Rouge Police Department. The disparate enforcement efforts lead to lower crime enforcement, which may be causing the increase in violent activity throughout the area.

The campaign has seen significant success in other metro areas, including those in South Carolina, Indiana and Nevada.

The increase in crime may be one reason that public defenders are stretched thin. According to one official, the overload of capital murder cases in the area has decreased the ability of public defenders to provide services to indigent suspects throughout the community.

Source: The Daily Reveille, "Baton Rouge crime rates remain high," Chris Grillot, November 5, 2012

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