Holden: Crime is down, but fighting crime is a priority
Despite public perception to the contrary, violent crime is down in Baton Rouge, Mayor Kip Holden says. Holden delivered his annual State of the City-Parish address to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge today. He says homicides have decreased two years in a row, and "serious crime" has declined over 30% since 2000, according to FBI statistics.
"But these statistics get lost in the headlines and mean nothing to anyone who loses a loved one," he says.
The mayor says most victims and perpetrators are young black males, and that getting drugs and guns out of the community will take effective law enforcement, strong judges, strong families, dedicated clergy, good jobs and a functional education system.
Chief of Police Dewayne White has added more uniform patrols, Holden says, and a new police academy class is a few weeks away from joining the ranks. White is using "crime mapping techniques" to determine where to put new patrol units, Holden says.
A new truancy center, scheduled to open in August in partnership with the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office and others, and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, among others, will "help stop crime in its tracks."
Metro Councilman Mike Walker, one of the announced candidates to challenge Holden in the election this fall, was in attendance; but Holden did not mention the election in his address.
Other issues Holden touched upon in his address include:
—Ground was broken Tuesday on the eighth new fire station since Holden took office, helping maintain the city's Class 1 fire protection rating.
—"Conservative budgeting" has allowed the city-parish to maintain services and avoid layoffs.
—Baton Rouge ranks No. 7 in the nation for projected job growth through 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
—Ground has been broken on LSU's new Louisiana Digital Media Center, helping to create 600 new jobs and establish Baton Rouge as a growth center for the digital media sector.
—Baton Rouge is on the short list for three possible major economic development projects that could be announced in the coming months.
—Local film industry spending has increased from $25 million in 2008 to more than $208 million in 2011.
—The United States Bowling Congress, International Planetarium Society Conference and Bayou Country Superfest all will pump money into the local economy this year.
—The Baton Rouge Loop highway project still is needed, despite opposition from small, vocal groups of "NIMBYs."
—The mayor's staff meets regularly with Metro Council members, making sure they have the information they need about the administration's actions and policies. [Communication and a purported lack of information on crucial issues has been a sticking point for the council.]
—Sewer rehab and Green Light Plan road projects are progressing according to schedule.
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