If not for a spike in violence in November, the city of Baton Rouge was trending toward a 40% decline in homicides, Police Chief Murphy Paul reported to the Baton Rouge Press Club today.
Despite the spike, Paul says the end of the year data should reflect “two consecutive years of progress within the department.”
As BRPD prepares for 2020, the majority of the 26 new recruits released from a field training officer program this week will be put on uniformed patrol. Nine of those new officers will be moved downtown with the goal of creating a 24-hour 5th district, Paul says.
With “so much growth downtown” the chief is emphasizing round-the-clock patrols and continues to look at ways to battle the homelessness and panhandling problem.
The department has seen an average of 50 vacancies each year over the last decade, rising to roughly 78 openings at last count. Paul says another 10 officers are currently enrolled in a POST lateral academy, coming from other departments, and will graduate before the end of the year. Another academy session is already planned for 2020.
“We’re confident that before the summer of next year, that we’ll have one of the largest complements of police officers, actually boots on the ground on the streets out there helping to keep us safe in the city of Baton Rouge.”
These latest recruitment efforts come as Paul continues to push for changes to the “culture of violence” in the city.
In 2020, the department expects to open the Real Time Crime Center and release an efficiency study that examines personnel usage in the department.
The final efficiency study is expected to be turned over to the department next week, but won’t be publicly available until early January pending review by command staff, Paul says.
The Real Time Crime Center will open in February, utilizing technology to make the city’s crimefighting more efficient.
“We can do more with less with the use of some of the technology that’s going to be presented to us,” Paul says.