POSTED: Friday, March 14, 2014 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Friday, March 14, 2014 - 5:04am
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Baton Rouge homeowners are taking a unique step to keeping themselves safe. They formed a new partnership with the police department, which they hope will stop both fear and crime.
The partnership, called Homeowner Association Law Enforcement Communication Systems (HALECS), was announced during Thursday's meeting of the Federation of Greater Baton Rouge Civic Associations . It calls for the Baton Rouge Police Department  to disseminate information directly to a homeowners association when it has crimes to report in a specific area.
The plan is described as being unique in the state of Louisiana, and one of a small number nationwide involving police and civic associations.
"We'll have some bugs to work out as we go forward," said Gary Patureau, who devised the plan and represents the Sherwood Forest Citizens' Association , "but we're very excited that we'll be able to put proactive information in the hands of homeowners immediately."
Patureau hit upon the idea for a coordinated effort between the police and civic associations in January, when several homes around the city were broken into and female residents were assaulted. He reached out to the police department to see about getting more accurate information, faster.
"When the home invasions occurred, it just set us in motion to prepare for this, for something else happening," said Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa. "And we hope it never does, but you have to prepare, and that's what we're trying to do."
"[Civic associations] pay for security patrols, but a lot of times they don't have the information that they need on an on-time basis," Patureau added. With better information about crime patterns, he reasoned that security officers would offer greater safety to the residents of their neighborhood.
To that end, the federation invited a personal security firm to attend the meeting and bring knives, stun guns, and other personal safety devices. Organizers also handed out pamphlets with 10 ways for homeowners to reduce the odds of their homes being broken into.
"The FBI statistics say that between 30-40 percent of all burglaries, home burglaries, are unforced entries," Patureau stated. "So the very first tip on the sheet is: lock your doors."
"The goal," he added, "is to help people be safe in their own homes, and help them to be proactive so that they won't have a burglary or a home invasion."