Parents of Baton Rouge homicide victims are working with police, pleading for potential witnesses to help law enforcement solve their children's cases and fight the city's rampant gun violence. 

And the department is using its voice to encourage cooperation from the public, which leaders say is key to reducing crime.

Among the parents speaking at a news conference Friday at Baton Rouge police headquarters was Elizabeth Robinson, whose son was gunned down on Cadillac Street last spring.

"This could be you standing where I'm standing. It could be you that stay up all night crying. It could be you that's taking care of his three kids," Robinson said. "So if you know anything, could you please call Crime Stoppers? Because if this person did it once, I promise you they're gonna kill again." 

Louis Robinson Jr. had returned home after serving for six years in the U.S. Army with deployments in Korea and Iraq before he fell victim to Baton Rouge gun violence one afternoon in May. He was a local rapper and the father of three young children. 

Elizabeth Robinson is still waiting for her son's case to be solved, hoping for some sense of closure and peace.

Department leaders hope messages from victims' families will continue to boost public cooperation, which they say has increased over the past year since Chief Murphy Paul took office in January 2018.

They also praised recent operations that have resulted in almost 300 arrests on illegal gun and drug counts since the beginning of the year, saying those proactive patrols are key to preventing violent crime.

Paul said 2018 data show violent crime in the city is down in almost every category compared with the previous year. 

"That is progress," he said. "That is progress. It is nothing to be proud of because we had a very horrible 2017. But I am very optimistic that we are gonna be better in 2019 in identifying that small group of individuals who are responsible for the majority of crime."

Paul has long argued that crime is a community problem and officers need tips from residents in order to be most effective. He said police have identified several recent homicides in which loved ones had valuable information ahead of time that could have prevented the crime. 

"But no one likes to pick up the phone and call law enforcement when they have that information," he said. "We have to do something."

Paul said the common sight of guns in photos posted to social media should raise serious concerns among Baton Rouge parents. He said people can contact the parish's anti-violence initiative Truce and have authorities come to their house and pick up unwanted firearms with no questions asked. 

Officials also reminded the public they can call Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip with the potential to receive a cash reward when an indictment is obtained.

The parents of homicide victims who attended Friday's news conference said they're hoping that sharing their stories will help save other families from experiencing a similar loss. Department leaders have held a series of meetings with victims' relatives over the past several months, giving them a space to offer support and healing, and letting them know detectives haven't forgotten their cases.

"I'm tired of seeing us burying our babies and I'm tired of watching them go to jail. So if you want to save your child … we have to come together," said Rhonda Broux, who lost her son to gun violence 13 years ago. "If you're afraid of making a phone call, what about being afraid to walk outside, and afraid for your children to go anywhere? Think about comparing those fears and see which one is worse."

Follow Lea Skene on Twitter, @lea_skene.