Community-Wide Initiative to Reduce Number of Stolen Guns Launched
Monday, November 9, 2015
For Immediate Release: November 9, 2015
Contact: Holly Howat (337) 501-2355
Lafayette Parish Launches Community-Wide Initiative to Reduce Number of Stolen Guns
Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (LCJCC), a collaborative workgroup of criminal justice leaders and community stakeholders, launched a community safety project targeting stolen guns. The initial part of this project is a 21 day public awareness campaign to encourage simple public safety actions like locking vehicles and homes to prevent gun theft. Last year, over 400 guns were stolen from vehicles in our community. Most of these guns were stolen from unlocked cars and trucks. In addition to guns, other frequently stolen items are cellphones, computers and cash.
Therefore, local law enforcement along with collaborative organizations like LCJCC and Lafayette Advisory Commission on Crime Prevention (LPACCP) are introducing the Love It/Lock It campaign. The message of Love It/Lock It is two-fold. The first meaning is that if you value your possessions, make sure you lock them up to keep them safe. The second meaning is about loving the community of Lafayette. Locking your vehicle, home and valuables is an act of love. "As a community, we must commit to make our city and parish safer," said Major Art LeBreton of Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. "Ensuring that vehicles are locked at all times will greatly reduce the likelihood of your vehicle being burglarized."
When things like cellphones and computers are stolen, they are sold to fund crime and drug activity. The same goes for stolen cash. Guns, too, are often stolen for money. However, guns are also used to perpetrate more violent criminal activity in Lafayette and the surrounding parishes. In 2014, a Lafayette Police Officer was shot while pursuing an armed suspect. The suspect used a stolen gun to shoot the officer. Guns stolen in Lafayette parish have been used in shootings locally like one in Duson in June of 2014 and in shooting across the state like one in Jefferson parish in late 2014. Sometimes these weapons are just discarded after being used like one that was found by a 5 year old while playing in his neighborhood.
"We need to act together as a community to make it safer," said Chief Jim Craft of Lafayette Police Department. "The simple act of pressing the lock button every time you exit your vehicle can significantly improve the safety of Lafayette." For the next 21 days, LCJCC, LPACC and its partners (Sheriff's Office, Police departments including Lafayette, Duson, Youngsville, University and other) will engage in a vigorous public and social media campaign designed to raise awareness and involvement in community safety over the next 21 days. "We will have information posted daily on our websites, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. This information will also be shared with public media outlets including radio, print and television," said Holly Howat, Executive Director of the Lafayette Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. "Research indicates that is takes a minimum of 21 days to learn a new habit. Our goal is to use information to raise awareness and action to prevent the theft of gun, particularly from unlocked cars." The Love It/Lock It stakeholders are also encouraging citizens to share the information with family, friends and neighbors.
LCJCC was established in 2013 as a collaborative working group where leaders would work together for public safety and justice. LCJCC efforts initially focused on the internal policies and processes of the criminal justice system. For example, last year a phone call reminder system was instituted to help defendants remember to show up for court proceedings. Now, LCJCC is seeking to use its collaborative strengths to connect with the community. The Love It/Lock It campaign is the first step in a larger initiative on community safety called Aware and Involved.
"All of us working within the criminal justice system want our community to have knowledge and be proactively involved in creating a better Lafayette," said Mac Gallien of Lafayette's Advisory Commission on Crime Prevention.
The principal mission of the Lafayette Parish CJCC is to study the Lafayette Parish juvenile and adult criminal justice system, gather data, identify deficiencies, and propose formulated and coordinated plans for change when opportunities present themselves. The committee strives to ensure the efficient and effective management of the Lafayette Parish Criminal Justice System by proactively and collaboratively engaging in information gathering and cyclical planning that embraces evidence-based assessment and evaluation of policies, programs and practices. The goal of which is to make a coordinated planning effort in making policy recommendations on vital criminal justice system issues that positively affect our community's safety.