Dear Garden District Neighbor,
Over the last few months, the Garden District Civic Association Board has been re-evaluating the best way to secure and protect the neighborhood using the financial resources provided by our annual dues. This process has led us to review and consider several options over the last few months.
We have spoken with many fellow Garden District neighbors, both dues and non-dues paying. We have spoken to board members and community leaders of other neighborhoods in our area. We have solicited and received proposals (including sample patrols) from private security firms and finally, we have met with police officers who have worked in our neighborhood and as part of our off-duty patrols.
After much consideration and weighing all options as a board, as of September 1, we have decided to continue working with the Baton Rouge Police Department. In coming to this decision however, we have also agreed to a new structure for these patrols which are intended to address previously identified shortcomings:
We will be provided more consistent patrols on a monthly basis, with more days being covered.
We have implemented a new tracking and reporting method for police officers to track their time
There is a new “always rolling and patrolling” policy with the officers while they are in the neighborhood.
We have looked at the entire year of patrols and budgeted additional patrols at peak times as needed.
A new Coordinator has also been appointed to serve our neighborhood. Officer Jacob Wheat will now be managing all monthly off-duty police officers patrolling the Garden District going forward. Officer Wheat comes to us with an impressive resume as he has served as the Live After Five police coordinator for the last five years and works downtown on a daily basis. Officer Wheat has met with the board and will be in direct contact with the board on a weekly and monthly basis going forward.
While there is really no correct answer on how best to secure our neighborhood and and unfortunately no proven way to prevent crime, we believe that this conversation and discussion has allowed the board and our off-duty police officers to better understand the needs of the neighborhood. In the end, we believe we can all work together to provide a safe and beautiful neighborhood for our families and friends to live in.
If you have not already done so, please consider becoming a member of the Garden District Civic Association by paying your monthly, quarterly, or annual dues as these funds are how we pay for the off-duty police officers and their monthly patrols. The more members we have, the more consistent patrols we can provide for everyone. For those wishing to contribute above and beyond existing dues, an additional page has been set up where you can contribute specifically to security patrols in the neighborhood: [https://gdcabr.org/product/additional-security-funds/].
If you have any additional questions, comments, concerns or if you would like to get involved, please reply to this email or contact us at [[email protected]].
John Christian Williams
President, Garden District Civic Associationread more
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Letter from GDCA President
Dear Garden District Resident,
There has been some misinformation being spread about the state of security within the Garden District so the Garden District Civic Association (GDCA) Board would like to clarify our current position.
As it stands today, we pay anywhere from $24,000 – $28,000 per year for security patrols by off-duty Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) officers in the neighborhood, which includes approximately 50-60 hours per month at an hourly rate of $35/hour. Historically, this is the maximum amount of hours that BRPD officers have been able to provide. This is not an insignificant amount, representing the majority of our annual dues, which come from less than 30% of eligible households in the neighborhood. Our goal has always been to be the best stewards of the funds you have entrusted to us.
That being said, our current security patrols come with some limitations. Chief among them are 1) We are unable to provide much in the way of reporting and transparency, other than “BRPD spent 50 hours in the Garden District this month.” We also do not know when exactly the officers are in the neighborhood, and what they encounter while they are here. 2) BRPD patrols are unwilling to be mobile in our neighborhood, which is not intended as a slight to BRPD, as we all know the mere presence of police can be a deterrent. Therefore, in doing our due diligence, we wanted to look at other potential options, both to get more bang for our buck and to possibly provide additional service beyond what we receive today. Private security is one of the options being considered.
In considering a potential candidate private security firm, we have the option of having multiple randomly timed patrols every night of the year – this service is not paid on an hourly basis but on a patrol basis thus allowing us to provide more security to the neighborhood for the same price. These patrols include among other things:
- A complete drive-through of the neighborhood in a clearly-marked vehicle with a flashing light. This includes alleys, if included in the contract.
- A daily/weekly report, including pictures, of any suspicious activity, which can be posted to our website.
- A dedicated phone number that is routed directly to the on-duty security personnel for residents to call citing any concerns.
- Optional a la carte services (billed directly to homeowners), e.g. Upon request, the company will do walk-arounds at people’s homes when they go out of town, or they can meet a homeowner late at night for a walk-in to their home.
- The ability to scale up and a less expensive rate. If the neighborhood wants more frequent patrols, we can do that and again, every night of the year.
- All of this, at less than we currently pay for 50-60 hours of stationary patrol per month.
Contrary to what was reported online, no formal decision has been made. The Board had approved splitting our existing funds 50/50 between BRPD and a private firm. The idea was that this would give us the opportunity to try something new out and possibly give the neighborhood additional and more frequent service. When approached by the GDCA Board, BRPD was clear that such an arrangement was not incentive enough for their off-duty officers to come to our neighborhood, and it would therefore be an all-or-nothing decision.
This is where we currently sit. Following the response from BRPD today, the Board will make a decision on how best to proceed. Some of you have voiced displeasure at this process and even stated that you will no longer pay your dues if BRPD is not used. If a decision is ultimately made to go that way, we would encourage everyone to keep an open mind and not make any rash decisions. BRPD has made it clear that even if we go this direction, they are willing to resume the current patrol situation at any time.
As always, your Board is doing the best possible job we can to serve our neighborhood, and we always invite interested parties to participate in this process by joining and serving. If you would like to join the Board or participate on a committee, please email us at [email protected] with your interest.
John Christian Williams
President, Garden District Civic Association
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