District Attorney Hillar Moore III told the Chamber of Commerce of East Baton Rouge on Tuesday that his office needs more money and that it is underfunded compared to its counterparts in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
Moore, speaking to the conservative and small-business based chamber, said the District Attorney’s Office has improved vastly over the past several years but that he needs more money to continue to add more positions and stop crime before it enters the courtroom. Moore touched on the successes of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination initiative and the importance of preventing violent crime by children.
“Why does the prosecutor’s office serving the largest parish and the capital region of the state have the smallest budget and the lowest amount of state and local funding of any of our metropolitan offices?” Moore asked.
He said his office did not have the money to meet payroll this year after years of dipping into reserves to make up for the lapse in city-parish funding. In 2013, the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s office received $5.2 million in local funding, while the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish district attorney’s offices serving smaller populations received local funding of $6.3 million and $14 million, respectively.
In addition, all of the district attorney’s offices receive money from the state, grants, warrants and other sources like fines, forfeitures and fees.
Moore has tried to secure a tax for the District Attorney’s Office in the past, but he said Mayor-President Kip Holden and the Metro Council assured him they would make sure his office received adequate funding.
“I do anticipate and am confident that the mayor and Metro Council will work to rectify our budget shortfall,” he said.
Asked if he was worried that the possible incorporation of the proposed city of St. George would shrink his budget further, Moore said he believes his budget should not be affected.
If given additional money, Moore said, he hopes to add another prosecutor to his office’s sex crimes division and that he also would like to add another domestic violence prosecutor.
He also focused on the importance of preventing children from breaking the law. Moore said it is a constant challenge to work with children because it takes a full family effort to prevent lifestyles of violence.
“Make no mistake about it, all day, all night long, law enforcement and my office deals with juveniles and young kids,” he said. “That’s where our fight is. “
He recalled Baton Rouge murderer Michael Louding and how he was accused of six murders before he was 17 years old. Louding was convicted when he was 17 in the killing of killing Terry Boyd, whom East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors argued was in a hit man capacity for rapper Torrence “Lil Boosie” Hatch. A jury acquitted Hatch in Boyd’s death in May 2012.
One of Moore’s goals for the next year is to work with schools to intervene with children causing trouble before they start committing crimes and enter the court system. He said he has worked closely in the past with Warren Drake, the sole finalist for the East Baton Rouge Parish schools superintendent job.
Moore applauded Drake’s knowledge of truancy problems and said he would like to work with him further should he become the next superintendent.