The following information is provided by Officer Haley Stafford with the Baton Rouge Police Department. Office Stafford is our Garden District’s Off-Duty Patrol contact.
- A home on Park Boulevard was burglarized in June. Officer Stafford reached out to the victim and encouraged the person to establish a Nextdoor profile and continued to follow up with them over the next two months to help reduce their anxiety and calm them down. She educated the victim on safety tips, reporting, and neighborhood watch.Officer Stafford worked the burglary case until the Detective assigned to the our area returned from being out of town. BRPD officers learned the identity of the suspect, Raphael Jenkins, in July after receiving the DNA hit from the crime lab. Officers learned Mr. Jenkins was a suspect in multiple other burglaries. Officer Stafford reached out to Nextdoor, posted a photo, and requested the community begin notifying Police if Jenkins was spotted in the area. She communicated with other Officers working the road to let them know of Mr. Jenkins warrant, his crimes and the likelihood of future calls coming in for Mr. Jenkins. On July 13, 2018, Mr. Jenkins was spotted on Government Street and arrested. Officer Stafford notified the victim of the arrest who then advised Officer Stafford that the experience had been life-changing and that many new things were learned over the last two months. Officer Stafford now sees the victim advocating safety and reporting to other neighbors through the Nextdoor application.Mr. Jenkins is a possible suspect in a burglary of a home under construction on Olive Street. Officer Stafford spoke with the construction foreman who has since installed a camera near the residence. The foreman reported a male subject entered the garage area of the home, urinated on the wall, and left a donut bag on the ground. The camera was able to get a shot of the male as he initially walked into the garage and the male in the photo matched the description of Mr. Jenkins. This case is still pending.
- Officer Stafford assisted with a neighborly dispute on Park Blvd. The parties involved were having disagreements that had heightened over time. Officer Stafford intervened, speaking separately with both parties. She was able to get them to make concessions and agree to be more civil to one another. Officer Stafford instructed the neighbors to continue working on mediating their differences.
- Officer Stafford reported that she has been continuously instructing the community to report everything, to lock all doors, and to install security systems and cameras. She stated that much of the community still does not report things when they occur. Rather, they wait long periods of time which contaminates possible DNA scenes, or they don’t report at all until other people in the area experience the same crime. They report to social media rather than reporting to Police. She patrols the area of the Garden District numerous times in a manner to deter criminal activity. She has not received any calls for service during these patrols. She has contacted several suspicious persons in the area of the Garden District, but after checking their identification, they were released. She has not observed any crimes in progress during her patrols.
- Officer Stafford is currently working a burglary investigation on Olive Street. There is no video surveillance. The homeowner was out of town at the time of the burglary. Officer Stafford saw the homeowner’s post about the burglary on Nextdoor and looked up the report in the system. Officer Stafford has reached out to the homeowner to get a list of missing items that could possibly be tracked.
Finally, Officer Stafford stated that she has noticed a decrease in calls for service for burglaries since the arrest of Alverz Peters and Raphael Jenkins. Calls received in July were mainly suspicious persons calls and false alarm calls.
Our sincerest thanks to Officer Stafford for providing our Garden District Association with this information. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated Officer servicing our neighborhood.
At the May 8 GDCA board meeting, Officer Haley Stafford with the Baton Rouge Police Department gave your Board an overview of crime and crime prevention tips for our neighborhood. She reported that the Garden District is a small area of District 2, which has a very large geographical footprint. (District 2 is an area that includes the Mississippi River levee to Independence Park, to Staring Lane, Florida to Airline, and Tigerland).
Officer Stafford stated that burglary (automobile, garage, and shed) is the most common crime in our neighborhood. Offenders are looking for lawn and garden equipment, bicycles, electronics and guns that can easily be sold on the street to pawn shops or even on-line. A recent victim of a burglary found his stolen tools for sale on the website “Let Go”. She added that firearms stolen out of automobiles are quickly sold on the street to buyers who are not legally able to buy firearms (unable to pass background checks, etc). She asked that everyone please do not leave firearms in your vehicles.
Officer Stafford also reported that she and her fellow officers see posted photos/video footage and read information about crime on Nextdoor.com that is not being provided to the police. She strongly recommended that residents provide all useful information regarding all crime, including security camera footage to the police. She stated that more and more, the crimes being solved are because of security camera photos or videos provided to detectives. Homeowners, she said, often request DNA samples be taken at the crime scene but she stated that each division is only allowed to submit ten DNA samples per month.
Officer Stafford asked that we please be patient with investigations. She indicated that people may be reluctant to report the crimes because they think nothing will be done. However, it may take two or three weeks before a detective contacts you after your initial report because their docket is so full. She strongly urged neighborhood residents to report ALL criminal activity. An example, she gave of how this can make a difference: She said, if a perpetrator goes to court, accused of five burglaries (but actually burglarized ten homes or cars), the judge will impose a lighter sentence than if the judge knows that he has burglarized ten homes or cars. She stressed that it is very important that we report all crimes so that habitual offenders are dealt with properly.
She summarized her presentation with the following best practices that we all should follow to enhance the safety of our neighborhood:
- REMOVE firearms from vehicles
- INSTALL security cameras
- LOCK your vehicles
- RECORD serial numbers of your tools, lawn equipment, bicycles, etc.
- REPORT all crimes and suspicious activities to police
Officer Stafford is our contact with the Garden District’s Off-Duty Patrol and she pledged to keep us informed on issues of mutual concern. We are all grateful to Officer Stafford for sharing her thoughts and suggestions and the association and its neighbors look forward to further interactions with her.read more
Your GDCA has been very busy with annual spring activities including the neighborhood garage sale, Easter egg hunt celebration, and crawfish boil.
Garden District Annual Garage Sale
Gorgeous spring weather on March 24 made for a wonderful morning of shopping in the Garden District during the neighborhood-wide garage sale. More than 30 homes participated in the sale. A survey of participants revealed that no one will be able to retire on their sale earnings but all had a great time and enjoyed the visits and interaction with shoppers.
An added convenience to this year’s sale was the Salvation Army truck that came around after the sale was over and picked up leftover sale items that were put on the curb at the participants’ houses. No need to repack those unsold items, AND those remaining goods will be put to good use by the Salvation Army servicing those in need.
Do you have ideas to improve future garage sale events? Would you like to see added activities such as live music? Please contact any board member at [email protected] with your suggestions. We’d love to hear from you.
Easter Egg Hunt
The weather cooperated once more for the annual Easter egg hunt, held Sunday afternoon, March 25, at the City-Brooks Park. About 50 children along with family members and friends participated in the event. Hundreds of stuffed eggs were hidden on the park grounds by neighborhood volunteers. Every child participating in the hunt was able to return home with Easter eggs in their baskets. GDCA president John Williams’ performance as the giant Easter bunny was a big hit as he handed out carrots and took pictures with the kids. Our neighbor Nels Anderson, once again donated adorable ceramic egg cups for each child. The children chose their own cup as a special keepsake. A huge garden district “thank-you” to Nels, for your continuing generosity that adds so much to the festivities and to John, for giving our children a sense of Easter wonderment. Families enjoyed refreshments and had a wonderful time watching the kids hunt eggs and visiting with neighbors.
It was an absolutely perfect sunny, cool afternoon for the Garden District’s annual crawfish boil held Sunday, April 15. Approximately 250 Garden District residents and guests attended the boil. Jason Petrie, of Tru Crawfish prepared the luscious crustaceans. Jambalaya and drinks were also included. The kids enjoyed games and a bounce house to burn off extra energy. We all screamed for free ice cream that was generously provided by Red River Bank. Two of our Baton Rouge police officers who were providing safety and security at the gathering joined us at the table to partake in the delectable eats. They were a most welcomed addition to the party. Everyone enjoyed visiting with neighbors, listening to lively music, sucking dem heads and pinching dem some tails. What better way to spend a spring afternoon!read more
Are you a Garden District resident and own your own business? We would very much like to spotlight neighborhood residents and their business in the newsletter. Our aim is to make folks aware of the talented entrepreneurs living in our own community and hopefully generate some business for you. If you would like your business showcased in the newsletter, please submit the following information by email to [email protected];- your name,
- your business name and location,
- year it was established,
- a bit about the business itself.
We would love to hear how the business came about and all the unique aspects of your operation. Please include a contact number in case we need additional information about the business. Also include the year that you moved into the Garden District.read more
We are also interested in spotlighting our neighborhood youth. Do you have a child or know a neighborhood child (up to age 18) who:
- performs volunteer work, has organized an activity with the goal of improving the community, has received special recognition for an educational, sport, music or artistic accomplishment?
- hustles to help out their neighbor in everyday matters, or performs activities that warrant recognition?
They deserve acknowledgment and we want to feature them in your Garden District newsletter. Information regarding the child can be submitted by email to [email protected] Please include the following information:
- child’s name
- home-schooled or school attending and grade level
- recognition received
- activity that is making a positive impact in our community
Let’s recognize and applaud them for all the good things that they accomplish every day. They are our future.read more
The Garden District Association’s annual meeting was held Sunday, February 18, 2018, at Circa 1857. The fine staff at Yvette Marie’s Cafe graciously provided refreshments for the approximately 60 members in attendance.
GDCA President John Williams presented a “state of the association” address. Agenda items included:
- Membership Drive
- Annual Activities Provided by the Association
- Health and Vitality of Our Historic Live Oak Trees
- Official Neighborhood Boundaries
Congressman Garrett Graves attended and was most accommodating by addressing issues and concerns of the association, neighborhood and his congressional district. Congressman Graves spoke of the continued traffic problems in the city and the local railroad crossing closures as well. He stated that the voices of concerned citizens were heard loud and clear regarding the railroad crossing closure at South Boulevard as this closure is being revisited and may be left as is.
2018 GDCA Board of Directors
Members of your 2018 GDCA board include:
- John Williams, President
- Claire Pittman, Vice President
- Liz Spaulding, Treasurer
- Jenny Iverstine, Secretary
- Returning board members include Mike Schexnayder, Ari Kocen, Lynn Hosie, Willie – Fontenot, Mary Fontenot, Greta Corona, Richard Ray, Justin Kozak and Chris Suba.
- Newly elected board members are Eric Troutman, Heather Day and Joy Couvillion.
- Retired board members are Charles Sutcliff, Chris Barrett and Sean Love. Much thanks to Charles, Chris and Sean for serving their neighbors and this organization with their time and talents.
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
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
On Monday, August 1st, the Puryear family at 1015 Park Blvd received a call from the St. Elizabeth non-profit adoption agency that a birth mother had picked them to adopt her beautiful 4 month old baby boy. The Puryear’s, which includes Dustin, Ellie, and 9-year old son Cooper, had been working toward an adoption for several months. Monday was the lucky day. The phone call came in at 1pm — while Dustin was in New Orleans on business having lunch — and after a mad rush home to Baton Rouge, Dustin, his wife, and his son had bought diapers, clothes, and a few days worth of food. By 6pm the paperwork had been signed and the Puryear family grew by one new boy who they named Luca Arden Puryear. The family is extremely excited and already adapting to again having a baby in the house. They welcome visitors but please email Ellie ahead of time to ensure the baby is awake to get maximum “oohs” and “aaahs” during the visit. Her email is [email protected]read more