Baton Rouge Sets Murder Record
Hurricane Katrina transformed our home town of Baton Rouge (BR), Louisiana; almost overnight the population in Baton Rouge nearly doubled. The sharp increase in the population combined with our economic problems has helped to create an exceedingly dangerous environment in Baton Rouge.
High rates of unemployment, drug abuse and gang activity have contributed to the 75 murders recorded in BR during 2009, a record number of murders and up over 12% from 2008. The last time homicide rates were this high was in 1993 when the city saw 74 people killed.
In addition to the 75 killings recorded within the Baton Rouge city limits, there were also an additional 11 recorded murders within East Baton Rouge Parish bringing the parish murder rate to 86 for 2009. Baton Rouge like many other cities across the US continue to feel the strain of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is no secret that in tough economic times the rate of crime spikes, this is a trend that has been consistent throughout time.
Many experts predict that the murder rate in Baton Rouge and throughout the US will continue to increase in years to come as a direct result of the economy and an increasingly competitive low-skilled labor market. Another contributor to the sharp increase in murder is related to young people, drugs and guns. In more and more low income urban areas the drug life is glorified. Our youth, especially those without a strong support system, are turning to a life of crime selling drugs. Many others turn to drug use, which leads to crime as addicts do whatever is necessary to get the next high.
It is important to note that law enforcement is aggressively targeting drugs, guns, and violent criminals. Last year the police department removed over 1400 guns from the streets of Baton Rouge. Repeat offenders are targeted for harsher penalties by the East Baton Rouge Parish Repeat Offender Prosecution and Enhancement System program.
Police say the streets of Baton Rouge are safe; and chances of being victimized are low if you are not evolved in high risk behavior. I disagree with this assessment, there are many parts of Baton Rouge that I would not feel safe driving through in my car, much less biking or walking through. Many of these areas are dangerously close to LSU and vital small businesses. These areas are those plagued by poverty, drugs, and crime and their footprint is becoming larger and moving closer and closer to the University and making doing business nearly impossible.
I don't believe that this trend can be reversed; so I fully expect that 2010 will set yet another murder record in the Capital City. As a direct result many small and medium businesses will continue to move out of state and LSU as well as the other local colleges will continue to struggle with campus security.
Baton Rouge murder rates
NUMBER OF MURDERS IN BATON ROUGE
NUMBER OF MURDERS IN THE UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH*