POSTED: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 9:46pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 10:09pm
BATON ROUGE (NBC33) — For a neighborhood to fight back and be proactive in the battle against crime, police said not to directly engage the criminals, but to get organized and establish a direct link with law enforcement.
A rash of violence has started off the new year in and around Baton Rouge. The East Baton Rouge Coroner's office said there's already been 11 homicides this year, compared with eight at this time last year. To curb the violence, police said it takes a neighborhood coalition or watch group, especially in the areas hit hardest by crime.
"If they would stand up to make a difference, that would definitely run the crime element out," said Baton Rouge Police Corporal L'Jean McKneely.
As president of the Gardere Crime Prevention District, Sammie Grimes motivates his community to help fight crime in his neighborhood. Back in November, his efforts gained Metro Council approval for a dozen surveillance cameras to be installed around Gardere.
"The reason we want the cameras is for eyes around when we're not around," Grimes said. "So we can see what's going on."
Wednesday, he said that things have been quiet where he lives.
But this example is rare elsewhere. Baton Rouge Police said because there's a lack of neighborhood participation -- and fear of retaliation from criminals -- that there's a lack of watch groups in parts of the city.
"We ask they not be afraid, and take some charge in the neighborhood," said Cpl. McKneely. "Because police can't do it by themselves."
Anyone interested in starting a neighborhood watch group can call the local police department.