Thursday, August 5, 2021

‘It’s hurting business, it’s hurting our city’

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – We’re halfway through 2021 and it’s already been a record-breaking year for homicides in Baton Rouge. Now, some business owners are stepping up and looking for solutions.

“We have to; it’s hurting business, it’s hurting our city, it’s hurting our image,” said Justin Alford, owner of Benny’s Car Wash. “And Baton Rouge is better than this. We can fix this, we can get over it.”

Back on June 7, one of Alford’s businesses on Perkins Road was the scene of an apparent road rage incident that led to a deadly shooting.

RELATED: Police: Alleged road rage incident leads to deadly shooting

“It was so sad and it was so tragic. And every time that you see any kind of homicide or any kind of crime like this, your heart goes out to the families,” added Alford.

Seeing the crime wave in Baton Rouge literally hit his business, along with the rising murder rate so far in 2021, has made Alford want to act.

“We’ve had just an outpouring of people saying, ‘Hey we got to do something here in Baton Rouge.’ So, we met yesterday just to say where do we go from here. People are calling me saying, ‘I’m a business owner,’ saying, ‘How can we help?’” explained Alford.

He and the folks at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber met with East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore to try to come up with some solutions to the crime.

“Crime in any part of Baton Rouge, regardless of where it is, affects every part of Baton Rouge,” said Moore. “And it particularly affects businesses. And they want to know what they can do to help us and the answers are difficult.”

When it comes to the crime rate, Moore says it all starts with family, education, and jobs.

“But we need people to take care of their own family, their own kids. You know, look around you, see what’s going on. You know if something wrong is happening. You know if your child has a gun, teenager has a gun, has a semi-automatic weapon, something is going on. Are they beefing? Are they in a group or are they in a gang? Are they in school? And try to take care of this yourself before it really escalates and comes to the point of having to be on television and not really being a good story for Baton Rouge,” explained Moore.

And Alford believes the business community can hopefully help out in some way, with the teenagers committing crimes.

“Hiring people, working with people, mentorships, Boy Scouts, summer camps, sponsor these events. Getting involved in the community and let’s get these kids off the street, let’s educate them, let’s give them a home life,” said Alford.

He wants to create a plan of action and that could maybe include an organization in the future.

He plans on meeting with Chief Murphy Paul and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux in the coming weeks.

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