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District Attorney Hillar Moore III answers questions during a press conference for the officer killed in the shootings July 2016 of Brad Garafola, Montrell Jackson and Mathew Gerald by Gavin Long Friday June 30, 2017, in Baton Rouge, La.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore released a lengthy defense Wednesday of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination anti-gang initiative, saying the cloud of questions about the program's administration should not mar its reputation for helping to decrease crime.

BRAVE has been in the spotlight for weeks after Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome's administration took heat for contracts recently issued through the federally funded grant. The grant will expire in September, and U.S. Department of Justice officials rejected a request to carry forward more than $1 million in unused money, saying that the city-parish's grant administration had multiple problems.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor is now examining the BRAVE program, while Broome's office released an account Monday of some of the program's missteps. Broome's office blamed former Mayor-President Kip Holden's administration for poor record-keeping, but Holden rebutted the accusations.

Moore's statement Wednesday came ahead of a presentation to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council that Broome will deliver about the BRAVE program. 

"The BRAVE troubleshooting and intervention model has worked in Baton Rouge just as it has worked everywhere that it has been employed systematically," Moore wrote. "I remain committed to applying the BRAVE model to reduce violent crime based upon whatever drivers of homicide we find: whether with juvenile offenders, with drug offenders, or with domestic violence offenders."

He pointed to a low level of homicides in 2016, and reductions in violent crime levels as evidence of BRAVE working. Violent crime has dropped by 26 percent since 2012, which is when BRAVE started, Moore said. And youth crime has dropped by 25 percent in the same time period, he added.

"Today, my prosecutors in juvenile court deal with only 3000 cases of juvenile crime, instead of 4000 cases, annually," Moore wrote. "Just this reduction in juvenile crime alone will continue to have a great impact in reducing the amount of future crime that we will experience as a parish."

Despite the lapse in federal funding, Moore said it is important for the city-parish to keep a variation of the BRAVE program going as a nonprofit that has already been set up.

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​