Baton Rouge Officials on Skyrocketing Murder Rate: 'We Need God, That's the Only Answer'

(Photo: Reuters/Jeffrey Dubinsky)Police officers attend a church service after a fatal shooting of Baton Rouge policemen, at Saint John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, July 17, 2016.

Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and other officials are turning to prayer as a means of coping with the spiking murder rate in the Louisiana city, which some observers have called a "hurricane of murders."

"We have a lot of tools in the tool kit. Law enforcement is working fervently but I believe another instrumental tool in the tool kit is the power of prayer," Broome urged, according to WAFB on Monday.

Baton Rouge Police said that there have been as many as nine murders in the city in less than two weeks.

East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Tara Wicker also called for prayers, noting that the violence has "put us in a place where all of us are very uncomfortable."

Police noted that the spike in deaths began on Aug. 29, when there were five murders in five days, followed by another four murders this past weekend.

EBR Councilman Buddy Amoroso said that the city needs spiritual healing.

"We need God. That's the only answer there is," Amoroso stated.

The Hayride published commentary on Monday that described the situatiom as a "hurricane of murders."

John Delgado, former Baton Rouge Metro councilman and mayoral candidate, and current radio pundit, provided the following statistics:

"We are currently at 70 homicides for 2017 in EBR. 60 of those have been in the city limits of Baton Rouge. This outpaces the per capita murder rate in Chicago by more than 25 percent. New York City has had 212 murders so far this year... for a city of 8 million people. If Baton Rouge were the size of NYC, we would have 1,920 murders."

The article noted that there are parts of town which are "out of control with gang violence and desperately in need of aggressive policing in order to squelch the gangs before they turn the neighborhoods in question into war zones devoid of legitimate commercial activity."

State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle said that the city's current strategy of focusing on blight, abandoned cars and making sure areas are well lit is not enough to tackle the problem.

"Although I do think that's an important issue, I don't necessarily equate that directly to the murders that we're seeing in our city. I equate the murders we're seeing in our city to not necessarily gangs, but 'beefing' as they say on the streets with each other regardless whether a house is blighted or not," Marcelle argued.

Outspoken Christian NFL player Benjamin Watson has in the past commented on the violence in Baton Rouge, urging Americans to turn to God.

"We need a heart transplant in the worst way," Watson wrote on Facebook in July 2016 after three officers were killed and four were seriously wounded in an incident that authorities called a "targeted assassination" against police.

"Praying to the God of the Bible for America tonight."

"The depravity of man has been on full display over the past two weeks. Many of us value our own pride, power, respect and revenge over another's life," Watson added.

"We are playing a dangerous game that never has a desirable ending and is consequently ripping us to shreds. Another family is mourning, another community on edge."

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