(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:55 PM
BATON ROUGE — Violent crime in Baton Rouge decreased 15 percent in 2013 from 2012, according to statistics released Tuesday by the city's police department.
Overall, major crime in Baton Rouge dropped 7 percent in 2013 from 2012, with violent crime — homicides and non-negligent manslaughters as well as robberies and assaults — dropping 15 percent. The exceptions were rapes, which went up 16 percent, and negligent manslaughters, which increased 67 percent.
Property crime — burglaries, thefts, auto thefts and arsons — dropped 6 percent.
Cpl. L'Jean McKneely, a police spokesman, tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1tByA2h) they believe several initiatives — such as the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project, operations aimed at taking drugs and guns off the streets, a Special Response Team that works warrants and overtime programs that flood problem areas with officers to try to pick up troublemakers while meeting with residents — are making a difference.
McKneely also pointed to increased community involvement and a stronger relationship between the department and the community.
Baton Rouge police investigated 13,664 major crimes in 2013 — 2,132 violent and 11,532 property crimes — compared to 14,755 major crimes in 2012. Of the crimes that year, 2,509 were violent and 12,246 were property crimes.
In 2000, Baton Rouge police investigated 22,100 major crimes, which has dropped steadily over the years, except for a few hiccups.
"The overall news is good and we're working hard, but we have more work to do," said Ed Shihadeh, a criminologist at LSU who coordinates BRAVE's research team.
Shihadeh said the drop is encouraging, especially the decrease in violent crime in the city, which he attributes to the crime-fighting techniques employed by law enforcement, including BRAVE and the Baton Rouge police street operations.
Shihadeh said the drop in overall violent crime is expected once the number of homicides decreases.
"Murder is really the tip of the violence iceberg," Shihadeh said. "If murder is going down, then you know some of the other stuff is going down. If you're looking at murder dropping, you're looking at robberies dropping, you're looking at assaults dropping."