You’re supposed to feel better about crime in Baton Rouge, because the city’s police department is now posting real-time crime numbers on its website – and they show that murders are down and arrests are up.
Baton Rouge police recently launched a crime trend dashboard where the public can go look at real-time crime trends happening inside the city limits.
To date, it shows homicides are down, while felony arrests are up. Robberies are up and so are mental health calls.
“It’s not just about the enforcement piece which we are actively involved in,” Chief Murphy Paul said. “We arrested more than 4,000 felons…seized 1,800 firearms. This rumor that I heard that we are soft on crime…we are not. We actually arrested more people for felonies and seized more…so we are not soft on crime. We are focusing our efforts on the small group that we have to deal with over and over again.”
Well, sure, but…
Despite the dashboard showing that 2023 is starting off on a positive note, there are questions about a lot of high-profile incidents that have occurred recently, like a shootout at a club last month that left more than a dozen hurt. So far, no arrests have been made in that case.
“My detectives are working non-stop to try to identify the person or persons responsible for that incident,” Paul said. “They are still working now. That’s all I can say right now. It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
There’s also the case of murdered LSU student Allie Rice and toddler Devin Page. Rice was shot and killed on Government Street after leaving a bar. Page was killed as he slept in his bed.
“We are still investigating,” Paul said. “I spoke to her father last week. Those are the ones that when you think of Allie and Devin Page…innocent young people taken for no reason. There are no lifestyles that caused that situation. Totally innocent angels taken away from us. In both of those cases, I never stop asking my detectives. We will never stop investigating those cases.”
Go and get a sales job, for example, and don’t close any sales, and then explain to the sales manager that while you’ve earned no revenue against your draw or salary you’re still out there trying to sell.
See how far that gets you. Coffee is for closers, you know.
WBRZ asked if those cases have gone cold.
“There are still investigative efforts going on,” Paul said.
So yeah. They’ve gone cold.
Three of the most high-profile criminal cases in Baton Rouge over the past year or so are destined to go unsolved.
Murphy Paul says they’re not soft on crime, and we believe him. We believe that Murphy Paul wants very badly to solve crimes.
But what seems quite clear is that Murphy Paul’s police department can’t clear major crime investigations, the horrific ones like the cold-blooded murder of Allie Rice, with arrests.
There’s a rumor going around about the Allie Rice case, by the way. The rumor, which has circulated in the legal community in Baton Rouge, is that BRPD has a suspect and it’s pretty well known that the perpetrator is a juvenile from the neighborhood around Government Street where Rice was killed. They even know who this kid is, and he’s a well-hardened criminal who’s been picked up over and over again.
But there’s no gun, the video doesn’t identify him, and nobody will come forward to rat the kid out because he’s too dangerous to mess with and so is the bunch that he runs with.
Meaning the cops in Baton Rouge are not the most fearsome gang in town.
And they don’t have the desire to reclaim that status.
Because the way you get somebody to rat out a suspect like this is to squeeze that neighborhood so hard, whether it’s raiding trap houses, harassing gang members or busting everybody who’s on probation for whatever minor, stupid violations they might be guilty of, that all of the criminal elements involved start realizing there’s more pain in squealing than in keeping their mouths shut.
And maybe your suspect turns up dead, and maybe that’s just life in the ghetto.
But BRPD isn’t interested in operating that way. Which is fine. Or it would be fine if Baton Rouge was a sunny little cowtown not overrun with criminal gangs like it is now.
Baton Rouge is a mini version of Detroit or St. Louis or Baltimore or Chicago. The criminal element in Baton Rouge is every bit as hardened and brazen here as it is in those places. You can’t pretend you’re not soft on crime if you’re not willing to go to war against the criminals.
And you already know that war is over. It ended when Gavin Long shot up a bunch of law enforcement officials a month after the Alton Sterling incident in the summer of 2016. Ever since then the cops have been willing to take a back seat to the criminals.
And ever since then the regular taxpaying citizens of Baton Rouge have become more and more unsafe.
Surely that makes Murphy Paul sad. But when you can’t clear the Dior Bar shootings, much less the Allie Rice or Devin Page murders, it doesn’t matter whether the police chief thinks he’s soft on crime or not. He’s losing, if he hasn’t already lost. And he isn’t willing – and nor is his pro-criminal boss Sharon Weston Broome, the failed, worthless mayor-president who’s running this place into the ground – to do what’s necessary to clean up the streets.
But at least we can look at the new crime dashboard as it documents the destruction of Baton Rouge by criminals in real time.