Low Drug Bust Rates in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling Killing

At the beginning of last month, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers...

Police arrest drug trafficker with handcuffs.

At the beginning of last month, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers in the parking lot of a convenience store by Baton Rouge police. The next day, Philando Castile was killed by an officer in Minnesota, the following day five police officers were killed in Dallas, and a week and a half later, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge. Since that time, there has been a significant decline in drug-related arrests in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area.

Have the rates of drug use and abuse dropped in that time? Unlikely. So why are Baton Rouge police officers taking a step back, and what are the consequences of that choice?


Baton Rouge police are still responding to 911 calls and complaints that involve drug-related issues, but data shows that it may be that they are not being proactive in their efforts to seek out those who are trafficking drugs in the area – that is, doing traffic stops and searches or taking other measures. Before Alton Sterling’s death, there were an average of 94 narcotics offenses each week from 2011 through the first half of 2016; in the week after, there were only 22 narcotics offenses, about 77 percent fewer than the average and the lowest amount since data on the subject has been collected by this resource.

The concern is that, with a lesser effort on the part of law enforcement, rates of drug-related violence will begin to rise in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas. While it makes sense that law enforcement might need to take a step back to analyze what happened in the death of Alton Sterling and in similar events across the country in order to create focused trainings that will help to stop it from happening again, there are concerns that a pause that is too long may trigger a backlash of drug problems and associated violence.

It is more likely that the police department was heavily taxed in the days following the Alton Sterling shooting as they managed the many protests that sprung up around the city, providing less manpower for doing much of anything else, narcotics enforcement included – a common problem for cities facing the task of managing huge protests in addition to their usual tasks when they are already undermanned.

But in the meantime, as the police department gets back on its feet and focused on the task of intercepting drug traffickers and dealers, many will continue to struggle with addiction involving drugs in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas.

Coming out of Isolation

For many in Baton Rouge who are living with addictions that involve drugs or alcohol, one of the biggest problems is isolation. Use of drugs and alcohol can alter a person’s personality, contributing to the development of behaviors that make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships. The focus is on the drug of choice, getting and staying high – and little else. As a result, addiction contributes to isolation, and isolation in turn contributes to cravings for drugs and alcohol.

It is a cycle that is best broken first with professional and comprehensive treatment and then by the steady building of a solid support network in recovery. Treatment that includes medical care and detox, if necessary, and a long-term investment in therapeutic intervention can help someone living with addiction to safely stop use of all substances and learn new coping mechanisms to replace all behaviors associated with addiction, including use of drugs and alcohol.

Though a strong foundation in treatment is essential to entering remission, ongoing remission is more likely to be long-lasting if the individual builds a robust support system in recovery. People who are coming to the end of treatment and looking to reach out to others who are also working to live a positive and sober life can take part in:

  • Alumni groups: Groups of people who attended the same drug rehab meet regularly post treatment to reconnect and support one another in recovery.
  • Peer support or 12-Step meetings: Free of charge and available at various times throughout the week, these meetings bring together those who are working toward the common goal of sobriety.
  • Volunteering opportunities: Though not everyone involved will necessarily be clean and sober, those who are also volunteering their time and energies to helping others are often working to live a positive and healthy life.
  • Holistic treatments: Taking part in yoga classes, attending meditation centers, and attending to spiritual pursuits in general can similarly put one in the company of people who may be a positive support in recovery.

What do you or your loved one need to heal from addiction in Baton Rouge?

Since joining the Townsend content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.