Maybe Baton Rouge is not Gotham City, as Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says. But it’s going to be a long hot summer if June shootings, leading to several deaths, are any indicator.
The good news is that crime overall is down.
The bad news is that a seven-victim shooting in a nightclub, and other high-profile crimes, are not only dangers for the public but deeply worry the larger community.
Broome, along with Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, said the recent shootings are not indicative of an overall spike in violent crime or part of a long-term trend. However, Baton Rouge has a homicide problem, with more deaths from shootings than most cities its size.
“Unfortunately, this past weekend we had a very violent weekend, but that is not the norm," Paul said.
What is in a different category of many recent incidents is the brazen shooting where the body of a young man was dumped at Perkins Road Park on June 26. The brazenness of that crime should concern everyone.
The chief will doubtless also address the crime statistics at the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday.
The data can and should drive police operations. It is, however, sometimes difficult to persuade the public that things are under control, given the profile of the recent shootings.
And however volatile the mix of young people, bars and handguns, we believe Baton Rouge is still shocked by a seven-injury shooting in a crowded Florida Boulevard nightclub. The chief argues that club owners can do more to stop such incidents, and we urge him to make some headway there as part of his agenda.
We also urge citizens to work with police agencies of all sorts. ''There is no crime that somebody doesn't know about,'' Gautreaux said. ''They got to speak up.'' Amen to that. Officers need the street-level intelligence that concerned citizens provide.
But there is a heartening sign that Baton Rouge is willing to face its problems. That was indicated by the overflow crowd that came to Broome’s community meeting called after the violent recent weekend.
It is evidence of community support for law enforcement and for the larger ideal of a safer city-parish, one diverse in its origins but united by a common purpose against threats like violence.