In one of Baton Rouge’s most violent neighborhoods, Police Chief Carl Dabadie knocked on doors and introduced himself.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dabadie and a couple dozen officers from multiple agencies canvassed homes in the Plank Road and Alliquippa Street section of north Baton Rouge that has seen a recent uptick in violence. The goal was to ask residents how police could help, and showcase that the city’s BRAVE initiative is about more than making arrests.
The canvassing comes on the heels of a violent weekend for Baton Rouge: six shootings across the city left four people killed and two injured. In one of the shootings on Alliquippa Street, which Dabadie and others walked down Wednesday, two men fatally shot each other during an argument early Sunday morning.
“This area seemed to be where we had a flare-up this weekend, so we want to get out in this neighborhood and see how we can help,” said Dabadie, who knocked on doors along with other officers.
The law enforcement efforts are part of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination initiative, a data-driven program by law enforcement agencies in Baton Rouge targeting those most likely to commit crimes. The program also leads to stern punishments for those who hear the warnings and don’t follow them.
Since BRAVE’s beginnings in fall 2012, law enforcement has expanded the approach from the 70805 ZIP code area to the neighboring 70802 area. Those areas together are where almost half of Baton Rouge’s violent crime takes place, even though they make up only 19 of the 75 square miles in the city’s limits.
If police are going to make more progress in ending violent crime, community outreach will be essential, said Sgt. Herbert “Tweety” Anny, BRAVE’s team leader. While residents may be too nervous to talk to police at a crime scene, those officers still get tips by phone.
“We will continue to keep pushing this,” Dabadie said of BRAVE. “We’re not gonna stop. We have a long way to go. We’re not patting ourselves on the back.”
Police are ramping up patrols in the wake of the recent violence. Officers with BRPD’s Special Ops program will patrol at night more often and look for narcotics offenses, said Lt. Jonny Dunnam, a Baton Rouge Police spokesman.
Residents were largely optimistic about increased police patrols, but remained skeptical about their consistency.
Tyrika Smith, who lives on Alliquippa Street, said she saw several pedestrians scatter as the officers came walking by. “I know I got scared,” she added, though she stayed behind to speak to them and welcomed more patrols in the area.
Dana Wilbert, who also lives on Alliquippa Street, hoped that police would become more responsive, but she was skeptical the outreach efforts would lead to a reduction in crime.
“We see them today, but we may not see them again until something else happens,” she said.
Follow Daniel Bethencourt on Twitter, @_dbethencourt.