POSTED: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 5:25pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 - 5:26pm
BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — City leaders and law enforcement launched big plans for their new project today. They're calling it the Baton Rouge They're calling it the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project, or BRAVE. It's a local version of a program called Operation Cease Fire, which has reduced violence by up to 50% in other big cities across the country.
Church leaders, law enforcement, and community members will focus on criminal hotspots throughout the city. Then, they'll give young offenders a chance to get away from the violent lifestyle through education and work opportunities.
While city officials hope to spread the initiative across the parish, they're going to start small. They'll focus their efforts on zip code 70805. It only makes up 13.5% of the city's population, but it has 30% of the city's homicides. People who live and work there say it's time for a change, and they hope BRAVE can make that happen.
Pearl Porter has lived in the area for 30 years. "I love where I live," she says. "I love the 70805. I love Baton Rouge."
Over time, she's seen crime in her neighborhood get worse and worse.
"I have seen it go up," she says. "Crime has gone up. There's no doubt about it."
She says plans to fix the problem in the past haven't been entirely successful.
"It's going to take some time," Porter says. "I feel like a lot of times, initiatives come through and they only work for a little while."
She's hoping this time around, the initiative will work. "As a community, we are ready for a change."
Porter thinks there's a certain way that community leaders need to tackle it. "If they come, they should be ready to stay here until we see the change that we need."
Reverand Danny Donaldson is a pastor at Rose Hill Church in 70805. He agrees with Porter.
"I think the thing that we want to make sure happens is I would like for every person that's involved in this to come to the community, get to know the community, get to know the people and the problems," he says.
He says he's excited about the project. He just hopes everyone else in the community feels the same way. "It will depend on whether the community accepts the idea."
It's all to make sure that the 70805 can be the way Pearl Porter remembers it. "I want to see our community become better."
Officials say they're hopeful this plan will decrease crime big time in our city. However, they say it's going to take a few months before the community really starts to see any impact.