In September, 2012, the City of Baton Rouge received a grant to implement group violence reduction strategies over 3-year period.
Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden announced that the city-parish had been awarded $1.5-million Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) Project.
The grant will implement group violence reduction strategies that target juvenile offenders over a three-year period.
The grant will provide up to $500,000 per year for the following activities:
- Violent crime research and data analysis tools from LSU to help identify criminal suspects and groups that should be targeted by the BRAVE project.
- Caseworkers and resources to provide substance abuse, mentoring, and job training to 25 youths each year who choose to leave crime behind through the BRAVE project.
- Support staff for BRAVE Director Anny to maintain grant records, and conduct media and community outreach.
The project was launched in May with $150,000 in city-parish funding that was used primarily to pay for the services of BRAVE Director Herbert “Tweety” Anny
and consultant Jim Fealy, who provided technical assistance for the violence reduction program.
Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden’s Office and the City-Parish Finance are the fiscal agents for the grant. Partner organizations are District Attorney Hillar Moore’s Office, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux’s Office, the Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana State University, City-Parish Department of Juvenile Services, Jim Fealy, Healing Place Church/Dream Center, Capital Area Human Service District, Baton Rouge Working Interfaith Network (Alvin Herring), Hope Ministries and the Department of Corrections.
BRAVE is targeting known violent and drug-trade offenders in criminal hotspots, beginning with zip code 70805 in North Baton Rouge.
Project BRAVE has been designed to reduce and eliminate violent crime committed by 190 juveniles in zip code 70805, a small criminal “hot spot” that has 13.5 percent of Baton Rouge’s population, but accounts for 25 percent of the city’s total police calls, 30 percent of its homicides, and 40 percent of its gun assaults.
The National Network of Safe Communities’ Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) model will be implemented under the support of the Mayor and District Attorney to target youth ages 14-17 in the 70805 zip code, which has a violent crime rate of 25 times the national average.
Project BRAVE seeks to:
- Change community norms towards gang and group violence
- Provide alternatives to criminal offending by the targeted group, and
- Alter the perception of youth regarding risks and sanctions associated with violent offending
The GVRS model is a multifaceted, community-oriented approach used to deter youth from violent crime by limiting opportunities to commit crime and increasing alternatives to violent behavior. The approach will be focused on targeting a small number of chronic offenders responsible for the majority of crime to have these offenders believe that the costs of committing crime outweighs the benefits. By tailoring and focusing an array of evidence-based methods aimed at addressing the conditions that are the root of crime, the community can significantly reduce the crime rate.
Mayor Holden said that the BRAVE project is utilizing the same GVRS that has been successfully used by Operation Ceasefire programs in cities like Boston and Los Angeles.
BRAVE officials will call in violent criminal and drug-trade suspects into meetings with faith-based and community organizations, who then confront the suspects with their criminal behavior and the collective knowledge of their activities. The suspects are advised of the consequences of continuing in their criminal behavior, including severe prosecution and tough sentences. They are also advised about opportunities to abandon their criminal lifestyle through substance abuse treatment, job preparation, GED training, and employment.
In recent months, BRAVE project organizers have met with many different organizations across Baton Rouge in their attempt to focus on zip code 70805. As a result, the BRAVE project now has support not only from law enforcement and local government, but also from the faith-based community, business and industry, social service and non-profit organizations, and the academic, educational, and recreation community.