Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

New pressure on gangs lowers murder rate

After authorities concluded that there were 30 active street gangs in the Baron Rouge parish with more than 500 members, they looked deeper and found that known gang members or gang-related violence was helping to propel the high homicide rate. Thus was born the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project or BRAVE and murder dropped in overall crime statistics.

Case-in-point: the East Baton Rouge Parish saw 31 homicides during the first half of 2013 -- a significant 38 percent drop compared with the same period in 2012. Meanwhile, the Baton Rouge Police Department has investigated 24 homicides, 11 fewer than by this time last year.

One official described BRAVE as providing gang members with straightforward alternatives: Get help or suffer a sledge hammer blow. Authorities now know who the bad guys are, where they hang out and whom they hang out with. As to where they hang out, these areas are now the subject of increased police patrols.

Another official noted improved communication between law enforcement and community members who are simply fed up with the violence and the fear of leaving home into such a violent world. The result: Citizens are now more frequently calling the police with vital information.

Pumped-up police street operations are now zeroing in on drug dealers and prostitution rings. Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the street operations personnel cuffed 183 suspects, confiscated 21 firearms and nabbed almost 50 grams of cocaine and some 900 grams of marijuana.

Fittingly, the headquarters of the BRAVE Project is in Zip code 70805, long tagged with the reputation of being the epicenter of area crime. But Zip code 70802 is running a close second and officials there are politicking to receive grants to institute the social initiatives of BRAVE in their own district.

Despite the significant drop in homicides, officials concede that homicide and violent crime will never be eliminated as they are too often the products of human passion flaring to murderous levels.Criminal defense attorneys will never go out of business. There will always be defendants who need representation to ensure a fair and just outcome.

The Advocate, "EBR murder rate down sharply for first half of year" Ryan Broussard, Jul. 06, 2013

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