EBR authorities pleased with ‘Gas for Guns’ event _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- An East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy retrieves a Bersa .380 handgun from a woman's vehicle on Saturday during a Gas for Guns event in August 2014. 

A non-profit group focused on planning issues has released the first of what it says will be a series of papers urging local politicians across Louisiana to adopt policies aimed at reducing flood risks.

"We have to acknowledge the reality that the whole state is at risk," said Jessica Kemp, Vice President at the Baton Rouge-based Center for Planning Excellence.

CPEX will examine ways individual parishes and municipalities can reduce their flood risk through measures other than large infrastructure projects like levees.

Each dollar invested in flood prevention yields a seven dollar return, this week's CPEX report states.

Climatologists are finding more and more instances of heavy rainfall events as the climate continues to warm, increasing the need for preventative steps, the report argues.

"Beyond the cost-benefit analysis, it is the very survival of many of Louisiana's unique communities, people and places that is at stake," the report states.

The first report is brief, though subsequent editions will flesh out more actionable policy proposals, Kemp said.

CPEX has previously published a flood resiliency report for the Jean Lafitte community in Jefferson Parish in which the group proposed higher building elevation standards, permeable roadways and protections for green spaces, among other recommendations.

Local governments could encourage developers and individuals to buy in by offering reduced rates for services such as credits on residents' water bills.

Local government analyst's work nets international award

East Baton Rouge Parish local government has received an international award recognizing a city-parish analyst’s work collecting and analyzing data to help law enforcement focus crime prevention efforts more effectively.

The award from the Rutgers Center on Public Security honors the efforts of Brandon Jumonville, a senior geographic information systems analyst, who has worked with city police and the parish District Attorney’s Office, to “develop a risk-based policing model using geospatial technologies.”

Jumonville’s model identifies geographic areas with elevated risk for crime incidents based on data such as blighted properties, which is then used to help determine where increased patrols or the allocation of additional resources would most greatly prevent future crime, according to a city-parish news release announcing the award.

Warren Kron, the city-parish’s GIS manager and Jumonville’s supervisor, said the Baton Rouge Police Department and District Attorney’s Office worked with his office to identify various risk factors, such as blighted property and past crime incidents, to include in the “risk terrain modeling” program developed by Rutgers.

“We’re trying to help the police department, which has limited resources, to better allocate their resources,” Kron said. “It’s another application for the wealth of data that the city has.”

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the award is yet another indicator of how the city-parish is using innovation and technology to improve the community and build safer neighborhoods.

“Data-based models like these are critical components to how we can work together to reduce crime while empowering our public safety teams and first responders with data to make informed decisions in serving our Baton Rouge residents,” Broome said in a news release on the award.

'Gas for guns' event set for Saturday in Baton Rouge

In an effort to reduce the number of unsecured firearms on Baton Rouge streets, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) and other law enforcement officials are hosting a “Gas for Guns” exchange program on Saturday.

The “no questions asked” gun buyback program, in partnership with the Circle K Corporation, will offer $50 to $300 in gas coupons for each qualifying handgun and "assault style weapon," according to a news release on the effort.

The exchange program will be held from 10 a.m. until noon in the Elm Grove Baptist Church parking lot, 1069 N. 38th Street, in Baton Rouge.

Any functional, non-replica pistol or revolver smaller than 0.380 caliber can be exchanged for gas cards for $50. Pistols that are 0.380 caliber or greater can be swapped for gas cards totaling $100 in value. The program will pay $300 in gas cards for each “assault style” rifle, as long as they are a functional variant of an automatic or semi-automatic rifle that is currently in use by military forces with a caliber of 9 mm, 7.62 mm or 5.56 mm.

Any other firearm or ammunition may also be dropped off for safe disposal and destruction by law enforcement without a gas card exchange.

Officers will receive the firearms without asking questions about the donors’ identities or how they came to be in possession of the guns. The exchange program assists non-commercial, private citizens and is limited to two firearms per person until all gas cards have been exhausted.

Donors arriving by car should place their firearms in the trunk. Donors arriving on foot should place firearms in a sealed or closed container, such as a bag, backpack or box.

Similar Gas for Guns programs in Baton Rouge have collected 741 unsecured guns since 2010, officials said.

Advocate staff writer Steve Hardy and Assistant Metro Editor Greg Garland contributed to this article.