Many are calling the street racing incidents in Baton Rouge on Saturday night “embarrassing, frustrating and a complete disappointment.”
College Dr. right before I-10 was shut down as well as Choctaw as large crowds looked on to several cars street racing. This was around 10-11pm, about the same time 100,000+ people were leaving the Garth Brooks concert at Tiger Stadium.
“We were there 30 mins, two 911 calls and no one responded,” said Jacob Smith.
Jacob Smith was a witness to the incident on College Dr. after he sat at a standstill for about half an hour.
“We were at the Garth Brooks concert. When we left, we went to IHOP on College to meet up with friends. At that time, there were tons and tons of vehicles in the Albertson’s parking lot. We didn’t know what was going on. The wait at IHOP was 45 mins so we went to leave and that’s when they were just starting to block off College,” said Smith.
What’s most disappointing to people like Smith and others from Baton Rouge is that no one stopped it or broke it up.
“We called 911. The first time, they said, ‘It’s been reported.’ Twenty minutes later, there was still no police. That’s when three guys ran feet from my car and I saw them holding guns in front of their pants. I called police again to give them a heads up that some people out here are armed. Instead, the dispatcher started questioning how I knew they were armed and then said they had already been called,” said Smith.
After 30 minutes of not moving while cars did donuts and burned tires in the middle of busy BR roadways, drivers had had enough. They started honking and Smith said that’s when the crowd opened a hole for drivers to get on I-10.
Sources tell Unfiltered with Kiran a “Be On the Lookout” or “BOLO” was put out for the reckless operation and streets blocked. That means, no officers were dispatched to the scene itself. Officers were simply told as a heads up, there’s a scene going on.
“The only thing I can think of is there aren’t enough officers. They’re responding to shootings and murders and this was low on the list,” said Smith.
Numerous sources have told Unfiltered with Kiran on any given night, there can be 4-7 officers working a shift and that’s it. Plus, if officers are off or call in sick, it’s even less. So often, individual districts are dealing with manpower issues of not having enough officers to respond to calls. In fact, it’s not uncommon for calls to hold for half an hour or much longer depending on the urgency.
Plus, one officer cannot dismantle a crowd of hundreds of people. It’s not safe for the officer. Add to that, officers are terrified of the current administration of Chief Murphy Paul using his internal affairs division to punish officers by launching investigations.
In 2021, the EBR metro-council passed an ordinance for harsher penalties for drag racers. A few years ago, BRPD officers could work overtime to tackle the drag racing problem, but now, with the shortage of officers, it’s difficult to spend time on drag racing. Plus, sources say the racing has now moved from parking lots with smaller crowds into middle of the roadways like Saturday night with very large crowds. Sources said if officers are successful at shutting down street racing in one location, the group already has other locations picked out to move to and continue street racing.
“I don’t know who to put the blame on,” said Smith. “Ultimately, it all comes back to the mayor. This is unacceptable. The safety of the people and police officers should be a priority. If they need funding to add more officers, then make that a priority.”
Unfiltered with Kiran reached out to Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s spokesperson early Sunday morning asking for a statement. As of this report, no one from her office has responded. In the past however, her spokesperson Mark Armstrong said they did not consider Unfiltered with Kiran as the media and it’s nothing more than a “blog.” He added the mayor only does interviews and sends media releases to credentialed media.
Unfiltered with Kiran also reached out to BRPD for a response. They did issue a response late Sunday afternoon.
“BRPD would like to thank all of the officers and EBR Law Enforcement personnel who made sure the Garth Brooks Concert was a safe event. With more than 100,000 attendees, it was a tremendous effort and job well done.
We were made aware of individuals involved in reckless driving on College Drive near I-10. Units were on other calls for service and were dispatched to the scene.
Officers were able to clear the scene and reopen the roadways. BRPD is aware of these individuals engaging in reckless driving and enforcement action has been taken in the past. We have made arrests, towed vehicles, seized weapons, and issued citations to persons involved in this type of illegal behavior. BRPD investigators are actively investigating this incident.“