Broome asked to answer council questions about BRAVE controversy

    Metro Council member Buddy Amoroso is calling for Mayor Sharon Weston Broome to come before the Metro Council next week and answer questions about the controversies swirling around the BRAVE program.

    In an item placed on the council’s Aug. 9 agenda, Amoroso is asking for details about why Broome’s administration deleted an item from the Metro Council’s Feb. 22 meeting that would have amended the city-parish contract with LSU to coordinate research activities for the BRAVE program.

    “It was really kind of strange,” says Amoroso, who recalls being puzzled by the action at the time. “There was an agenda item to give LSU $125,000 for BRAVE and at the beginning of the meeting we got word that the administration wanted to have that item deleted. That was really kind of strange because typically you would defer something like that but not delete it. That raised a red flag.”

    At the time, council members were told the administration was going to revisit its contract with LSU, which, since the BRAVE program began in 2013, has played a key role in crunching the crime data used to identify trouble spots and target potential perpetrators. The contract was never renewed.

    Last week, however, reports surfaced that the administration entered into several questionable contracts in June and July with various individuals, most notably, community activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed.

    “I want them to explain to me why this money went to people I perceive to be friends of the mayor and whether it was the same money that was supposed to go to LSU,” Amoroso says.

    The issues Amoroso raises mirror those contained in a letter he sent Monday to the state Inspector General, asking for an investigation into the program and the contracts. Also Monday, Chris Stewart, a former president of the Baton Rouge Police Union, filed a similar complaint with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

    Concern over the BRAVE contracts comes just weeks after the federal agency that has funded the program for four years denied the city-parish request for a funding extension. BRAVE funding, which began in September 2013, was set to expire in September, but Broome’s administration had sought to extend it.

    District attorney Hillar Moore, who was instrumental in starting the program but does not administer it, says he does not think the recent controversial contracts have anything to do with the Feds’ decision not to extend the grant. The grant administrator with the agency, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, declined to comment.

    —Stephanie Riegel

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