Here’s a rather shocking statistical recitation, courtesy of former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman and mayoral candidate, and current radio pundit, John Delgado about the proliferation of murders in Louisiana’s capitol city…
We are currently at 70 homicides for 2017 in EBR. 60 of those have been in the city limits of Baton Rouge. This outpaces the per capita murder rate in Chicago by more than 25%. New York City has had 212 murders so far this year… for a city of 8 million people. If Baton Rouge were the size of NYC, we would have 1,920 murders.
UPDATE: We are on day 253 of the year, with 70 murders. At this rate, EBR will have 101 murders in 2017, which is almost exactly 1/3 of the 305 that NYC is on track to have this year.
The explosion in the city’s murder rate is pretty clearly an example of the “Ferguson Effect” afflicting the city’s law enforcement officers, despite denials by city leaders. There are parts of town which are out of control with gang violence and desperately in need of aggressive policing in order to squelch the gangs before they turn the neighborhoods in question into war zones devoid of legitimate commercial activity.
In New York, the police reclaimed large swaths of the city from war zone status by instituting very aggressive police tactics like “stop and frisk” in order to discourage criminal activity and send a message – namely, that the “gang” in control of the city was the one in blue. That didn’t dissuade the hard-core criminals from doing hard-core criminal things, but it did discourage people on the margins from joining them. The cops also got very persnickety about enforcing the law on lots of minor things that used to be ignored, which is called “broken windows” policing. When people didn’t see trash and graffiti everywhere the psychological effect was to straighten up a little. In other words, when people perceive order, there will be order.
We don’t do any of this in Baton Rouge. What we do is have the cops writing traffic tickets in order to fill the city-parish coffers, and yet the parts of town where there is lots of crime are full of litter, overgrown lots, buildings with broken windows and graffiti covering the walls, junked cars and lots of other indicators of disorder and decline. There isn’t an aggressive “broken windows” approach where it’s needed; instead there’s a strong effort to monetize law enforcement with traffic fines and lots of DWI arrests.
This is partly attributable to the performance of Sharon Weston Broome as mayor-president; she’s a disaster on every front but particularly one with respect to law enforcement policy. Broome looted the BRAVE program, which had been a successful venture in tamping down violent crime and gang activity in the dangerous 70802 and 70805 zip codes, to throw city contracts to political pals for nonessential activities rather than using BRAVE monies for crime-fighting. She also made hug-a-thug policing a primary strategy as part of her initial agenda as mayor, while openly campaigning to get rid of Carl Dabadie as police chief so as to replace him with someone who looks more like Broome.
It’s September. She’s been in office eight months and the murder rate has more than doubled. It’s not too early to say this is an immediate and predictable consequence to Broome’s policies.
But it’s not all Sharon Weston Broome. There is a cultural problem in Baton Rouge which isn’t being addressed and must be. The parts of Baton Rouge where nearly all those 70 murders occurred have become far, far too accepting of criminal behavior.
The Sterling shooting and its aftermath are emblematic of this. As we’ve written in the past, under no circumstances should Alton Sterling have been held up as anything other than the career criminal apparently incapable of good decision-making that he was. Whether you believe there was bad judgement, criminal or otherwise, in BRPD officer Blaine Salamoni’s shooting of Sterling the night of July 4, 2016, you can’t escape that fact that Alton Sterling is dead because of actions he took.
He’s dead because he failed to follow police commands. If and when the toxicology report on Sterling ever comes out it’s quite likely we’ll see that a contributing factor in that failure would be that he was high on something, which might explain why tazing him was ineffective.
He’s dead because he was brandishing a firearm at others in front of the convenience store at which he was “doing business” at 2 a.m.
He’s dead because he was engaged in criminal activity on the streets of North Baton Rouge in the middle of the night. Yes, Sterling’s “official” activity – selling CD’s – is criminal activity, because bootleg CD’s are illegal. That’s called stolen intellectual property, and in parts of town where you don’t have violent crime on a constant basis you also don’t have people openly selling stolen intellectual property in the streets. Don’t think for one second the two aren’t related.
And let’s be honest – if you think Alton Sterling was selling bootleg CD’s outside of a convenience store at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night you’re horrendously naive. Sterling was peddling narcotics, with the CD’s as a front. Watch any crime show for five minutes and you’ll understand he’s a front man who sells something other than drugs to drug buyers – and when they buy from him, two guys roll up in a car shortly after to distribute the drugs to the customer who overpays Sterling for his wares.
And Sterling is dead because he devoted his life to crime at an early age and never stopped. That Alton Sterling would eventually either murder someone and end up spending the rest of his life in jail or be murdered on the streets was set in stone years before – that he had an illegal gun on his person the night he was killed was sure to result in a lengthy jail stay, and that’s probably the number one reason he refused to comply with the police.
Whether what Salamoni did to Sterling was justified or not, a community which was being relatively well-served by the police at the time – the murder rate in Baton Rouge had dropped to its lowest point in years at the time Sterling was shot – seized upon it to viciously attack and demonize BRPD. Ask yourself whether anyone – anyone – in the political clique Sharon Weston Broome comes from ever bothered to make the point that the number one lesson the Alton Sterling shooting should teach us is not to live your life like Alton Sterling did.
The answer to that question is, sadly, no. Instead, Sterling’s family members have attained a weird political celebrity status, afforded to them by many of the same operators who have demonized the family of Helen Plummer, a senior citizen victimized by East Baton Rouge Council on Aging director Tasha Clark Amar when the latter wrote herself into the former’s will as a trustee set to receive a cool $120,000 in fees.
That’s a pretty strong message which underlies the real problem in Baton Rouge. Live your life like Alton Sterling and when you ultimately get yourself shot and killed, the political class will destroy the city’s law enforcement institutions in order to pander to your family. But live your life like Helen Plummer, who died having amassed an estate worth more than $600,000 due to good decision-making and smart investments, and that same political class will attempt to prey on your estate at your family’s expense and treat them like criminals when they object.
That’s a cultural problem. It’s tied to race, but it doesn’t need to be. You don’t have to be white to make good decisions, and there’s nothing about being black that forces you to make bad ones. And if anything, law-abiding black people in dangerous neighborhoods in Baton Rouge ought to be clamoring for the most aggressive policing possible in order to stop the murders, rather than protesting that Alton Sterling was shot.
Our theory is those good folks would love to see broken-windows and stop-and-frisk come to their part of town. But they know better than to say so publicly, for fear of the consequences from Sharon Weston Broome’s political friends. So they suffer in silence as the bodies pile up, and they’ll abandon their collapsing neighborhoods and decamp for the suburbs as fast as they possibly can.