Building a Collaborative Community Safety Partnership in Baton Rouge
To create communities where children and their families feel safe, the Annie E. Casey Foundation recognizes that youth- and community-focused investments — such as those aimed at reducing youth homelessness, increasing economic opportunity and transforming systems — are integral parts of reducing violence, including gun deaths, because they address the root causes.
The city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has undertaken such a comprehensive approach. Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s initiative Safe, Hopeful, Healthy BR (SHHBR) brings together community members, partners, local agencies and civic leaders to combat violence. This includes:
- community residents;
- representatives from the Baton Rouge mayor’s office;
- local law enforcement;
- community-based organizations like the Baton Rouge Community Street Team and the gun violence prevention group C.H.A.N.G.E.; and
- local chapters of youth-serving organizations like the Big Buddy program and the YMCA.
Increasing Public Safety
The initiative takes a three-pronged approach to public safety:
- Community-based public safety programs put decisions in the hands of the community to protect their neighborhoods.
- Approaches that focus on mental well-being by addressing unresolved trauma and ongoing mental health issues within communities.
- Law enforcement agencies protect and serve their communities.
The approach is yielding promising results. In 2022, the city-parish saw a 23% reduction in homicides.
“SHHBR has deployed response teams and outreach teams in the days, weeks and months after a gun violence incident in order to mitigate the chance of retaliation,” says Courtney Scott, assistant chief administrative officer for Mayor Broom. “While outreach efforts aren’t always successful in defusing or preventing further violence, we believe that embracing the shared vision of SHHBR’s partners leads to a greater collective contribution to the safety of Baton Rouge.”
Monthly public safety meetings ensure effective collaboration among SHHBR partners. While all attendees are invited to participate in the conversation, these meetings put the voices of the people of Baton Rouge at the center of safety conversations. Partners can have a communal meal, participate in learning initiatives and share strategies or updates.