Baton Rouge law enforcement leaders announced Wednesday a new initiative aimed at decreasing gun violence and encouraging safe firearm ownership.
They released four public service announcements on the topic that will be aired in the coming weeks on local TV and radio stations, asking residents to lock up their weapons and help law enforcement prevent and solve gun crimes.
"We want to send a message that gun violence is not the way to solve conflicts that exist," East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said during a Wednesday morning news conference. "And if you live in a community that is not affected negatively by crime … you yourself could (reduce) homicides in a different part of our community just by simply locking you car door, not having your gun stolen from that car and maybe used in a crime of violence."
The videos incorporate testimonies from several people who have witnessed firsthand the persistent devastation of Baton Rouge gun violence, including parents who have lost children to homicide.
"This could be you sitting here," Elizabeth Robinson says in one of the spots, describing how she lost her son to gun violence last year. "Talk to someone instead of picking up a gun and deciding to take someone's life."
Trying to save him from the violence in Baton Rouge, Elizabeth Robinson encouraged her son in 2008 to join the U.S. Army, knowing he could end…
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul and East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux also spoke during the news conference, along with Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome. Officials encouraged the public to contact Crime Stoppers, which is a fully anonymous reporting system that offers cash rewards, with tips either before or after a crime has occurred.
Reggie Morgan, a Baton Rouge resident who spent years in the streets before turning his life around, is featured in one of the videos. He said he started dealing drugs when he was young to make money and help support his family. He's since been shot four times and served more than 10 years in prison for attempted murder, among other offenses. But now he owns a painting business and local barber shop, hoping to provide employment opportunities for young people who might otherwise turn to crime.
"I was always a good person … but in the streets I put a shell on, and it made me become someone that I really wasn't. That wasn't me," he said. "Most of the guys out there doing the killing, that's not them either. That's a shell."
Parents of Baton Rouge homicide victims are working with police, pleading for potential witnesses to help law enforcement solve their children…
Morgan said the culture of violence is what needs to change. He's working on spreading a message of peace: "Let it SLIDE," which stands for "stop letting intense drama escalate."
Louisiana Public Broadcasting produced the videos, which have been months in the making. Their release came following a recent uptick in gun violence across Baton Rouge that left three people dead over Labor Day weekend.
The number for Greater Baton Rouge Crime Stoppers is (225) 344-STOP.
The latest victim of Baton Rouge gun violence had spent the past 15 years honing his skills as a professional boxer, training almost every day…