Report Recommendation 2.1
Pillar 2: Policy and Oversight
2.1 Report Recommendation: Law enforcement agencies should collaborate with community members to develop policies and strategies in communities and neighborhoods disproportionately affected by crime for deploying resources that aim to reduce crime by improving relationships, community engagement, and cooperation
- The Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative was conducted from October 1, 2017, through September 30, 2020. The Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) served as the lead and fiscal agent for the project.
- The original core members of the Initiative included 100 Black Men of Metro Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Capital Area Human Services, LSU Social Research, and Evaluation Center, and the Southern University, Center for Social Research.
- The initial baseline survey and community listening session assessments informed community and law enforcement efforts and programming. The Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative partners worked closely with national technical assistance organizations to gain knowledge about successful interventions to heal community-police relationships.
- Throughout the grant period, the Baton Rouge Collective Healing Initiative expanded the number of agencies working on the project. This capacity-building strengthens and expands Baton Rouge’s ability to strategize and address historically entrenched community-police relationships and reduce violent crime in the capital city. As the Baton Rouge Collective Healing grant reaches its conclusion, multiple efforts are underway for continuing this work. Innovative, community-based strategies will be continued via Baton Rouge’s new Safe, Hopeful, Healthy Initiative. Housed within the Healthy BR organization, a local non-profit organization that promotes healthy lifestyles for Baton Rouge residents, Safe, Hopeful, Healthy will include a community-based violence intervention program and the Baton Rouge Street Community Team (BRSCT).
- Through its leadership and involvement, BRPD is contributing to and learning from the work of the East Baton Rouge Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (EBRCJCC) https://www.ebrcjcc.org/cjcc-board-and-staff
- The mission of the EBRCJCC is to work less as individuals and more as a team, focusing on inclusion, collaboration, and data analysis to achieve a justice system that is fair and equitable for all residents of East Baton Rouge Parish.
- Included in its body of work was a 2020 citizen survey of attitudes and perceptions related to the criminal justice system. BRPD uses this, and other feedback, to inform its policies and practices.
- 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.