POSTED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 7:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 7:04pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — A huge number of community members and law enforcement have teamed up with a plan to get rid of crime in the Baton Rouge area. They're calling it Operation Cease Fire. It's a collaborative effort between church leaders and public officials. Their goal is to cut down on the number of murders in the city by giving young people a way out of violent situations.
Reverand Robert Davis works right on the border of the 70805. That's the zip code that houses the highest number of murders in Baton Rouge.
"Areas that were once thriving, middle class neighborhoods are now being plagued with crime," he says. "Being plagued with violence, gun violence and homicides."
Residents living in that area are frustrated. "It's an atrocity," says Rev. Jennifer Jones-Bridgett. "It has been for a number of years. People are fearful."
Church leaders say it's high time something is done to fix the problem.
"We're not just being tough on crime. We're being smart on crime," says Davis.
Operation Cease Fire will target young people involved in violence.
"Most of the trigger men are from the 16 to 25 as well as most of those who are being gunned down," says Rev. Steven Beckham.
Church leaders and community leaders won't just put them behind bars. They'll also give them the tools to get out of bad situations for good.
"It ought to come with opportunities for young people," says Rev. Alvin Herring with the Working Interfaith Network. "there ought to be educational opportunities, job opportunities, job training opportunities, housing, healthcare."
It's a plan that just might work.
"It's been proven in Chicago. It's been proven in Rhode Island and other cities," says Beckham.
"In communities across the country where Cease Fire has been in operation, those communities have experienced an almost immediate and in some cases miraculous reducation in homicides," Herring explains.
It's the push Baton Rouge needs to turn their community around. "I want to see safer streets, but I also want our young men to see the best possible opportunity to come back into society and be able to become productive citizens," says Beckham.