Report Recommendation 1.5
Pillar 1: Trust and Legitimacy
1.5 Report Recommendation: Law enforcement agencies should promote public trust by initiating positive, non-enforcement activities to engage communities that typically have high rates of investigative and enforcement involvement with government agencies.
- At the core of BRPD’s mission is our pledge “to serve with the Baton Rouge community to prevent crime and to promote the safety and well-being of all.” https://www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9872/General-Order-106-Mission--Values-
- BRPD recognizes that previous and present injustice and discrimination are barriers to building community trust. BRPD’s Community Service Division develops and executes community outreach, youth engagement, and crime prevention among its services. Demonstrating its commitment to focusing on Community Policing Focus, BRPD has increased the number of officers assigned to the Community Services Division.
- Initiative. Safe, Hopeful, Healthy works to interrupt the cycle of violence, strengthen family support, revitalize neighborhoods, promote academic education, and prioritize access to care. The initiative centers on implementing mentorship programs, connecting residents to social services, improving the opportunities available within the community through youth development programs, and connecting residents to neighborhood-based public benefits and supportive services.
- Also, with the aim of ensuring the Community Policing concept and expectation is department-wide and not just the responsibility of the Community Services Division, all supervisors have received training in Community Policing (best practices) through the National Safety Partnership, Through its sponsorship and participation in community programs and events, BRPD interacts with citizens in a non-law enforcement capacity several hundred times each year. Prior to the pandemic in 2020, BRPD participated in an average of 300+ community events each year (2018 and 2019).In particular, BRPD is working with partner agencies and local organizations to bridge the gap with the city’s youngest generations. There is a particular focus on creating and participating in school events, through partnerships with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, as well as private and parochial schools.
- BRPD’s leadership and participation in the East Baton Rouge Parish Police Athletic League (PAL) bring officers, juveniles, and their families and friends together through positive engagement. Through its collaborative programs, PAL provides school-age youth the opportunity to develop their intellectual, social, and physical well-being in a fun, exciting, and safe environment. This promotes crime prevention and violence and helps foster positive, trusting relationships among kids, police officers, and communities.
- In 2019, Chief Murphy Paul established a new line of communication between community leaders, and the BRPD, through the formation of the Chief’s advisory council. This group of about 30 members represents a cross-section of grassroots groups and local organizations. The group meets bi-monthly, and as needed if there is a pending community issue. Members of the group express their concerns about relevant matters in the community and provide honest and direct feedback. In some cases, this group has made recommendations that have been adopted as policy, and at each meeting, the Council is briefed and given the opportunity to provide feedback on pending policies.
- The BRPD and DEA Citizens Academy is an 8-week training session. Participants meet with BRPD Chief Murphy Paul, BRPD Detectives, DEA Special Agents, and BRPD Academy Staff who provide insight into the daily life of a law enforcement officer, as well as law enforcement training techniques. During the sessions, law Enforcement Officers have honest discussions with class participants, who in turn share their advice relative to community engagement.
- As part of its Training Academy and In-Service Training, BRPD hosts Community Conversations, where community members have an opportunity to present and explore topics with cadets and officers. Having these genuine conversations helps ensure cadets and officers continue to see and think about policing from the perspective of citizens.
- In December 2021, BRPD launched a new strategy, whereby officers regularly interact with citizens in their own neighborhoods. Each week, BRPD officers walk the streets of various neighborhoods during the Department’s Community Canvases. BRPD leaders and officers say the effort is providing new insight and building mutual understanding between citizens and law enforcement.
- After a decades-long hiatus, BRPD recently re-launched its Explorers Post #225 program. The program is for students, ages 14-18. Explorers #225 gives participants a real look at a career as a first responder, with an emphasis on Law Enforcement as they rotate through each Division of BRPD. During the program, participants learn their rights, as well as the local and state laws of Louisiana. They are trained in First Aid and CPR and even have opportunities to ride with EMS on service calls. Participants acquire team-building skills. And most importantly, they grow in compassion for their fellow citizens through community service and volunteerism and form trusting relationships with police officers.
- Similarly, adults ages 18-21 can participate in BRPD’s Cadet program, whereby participants work full-time for the BRPD, shadowing police officers in every Division. Although Cadets must still complete the Department’s Training Academy to become sworn police officers, their years of service start accruing on their first day as Cadets. The Cadet program is meeting its objectives, encouraging young adults to pursue careers in law enforcement, and giving community members an upfront and personal view of BRPD.