Amid swirling reports about city-parish contracts through the BRAVE program, Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said the initiative has largely been a success in driving down violent crime in the parish.
Moore says he has been inundated with calls from reporters in recent weeks asking about BRAVE contracts, which Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s office handles. Broome came under fire last month after it was revealed she contracted with Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, an anti-violence activist who made controversial remarks at a recent council meeting.
“I firmly support each citizen’s right to review how their funds are being spent,” Moore said in a statement today. “I am very concerned, however, that within the ringing of alarms and raising of concerns that some very significant things are being overlooked: BRAVE has been a success as lives have been saved and crime has been reduced.”
The federal government earlier this summer told Broome’s administration it would not grant a funding extension for the BRAVE program, which identifies local youth who are at-risk for violent crimes and offers them resources.
Moore says the program has been patently successful, and argues a recent “glowing” report on the outcomes of BRAVE has largely been ignored amid questions about how the money was spent.
In response to negative attention from local officials and the media, Broome released a lengthy report including email correspondence among city, federal and LSU officials about the program. That report mainly argued Broome inherited a mess from former mayor Kip Holden’s administration, which failed to adhere to federal rules and report data correctly.
Moore today called for help in preserving the program now that the federal funding is ending. More than a year ago Moore and others formed a nonprofit aimed at sustaining the model once federal funds dried up, and the board is now ready to take over the program.
“Five years of data now shows that every day with BRAVE has given us a less violent day than before BRAVE,” Moore says in a statement. “From day one, we knew that our local community would have to bear responsibility for sustaining BRAVE when the grants ended. That day has come.”