Crime – the New Orleans “centerpiece”

Posted on Monday 19 June 2006

Unbelievable. It took the killing of five people at one time to prompt the city leaders to get the lead out (so to speak):

Mayor Ray Nagin asked the governor Monday to send National Guard troops and state police to patrol his city after a violent weekend in which five teenagers were shot to death.


City Council members promised swift action against violence as the city tries to repair itself.

“The crime issue — once it begins to surface itself as a centerpiece again, everything else falls out the window,” Councilman Oliver Thomas said. “It just dampens all our possibilities and probabilities.”

By suggesting that the crime issue might be starting “to surface”, Oliver Thomas highlights one of the biggest disconnects I’ve seen regarding post-Katrina New Orleans: ignoring the violent madness that stained the city for so long.

News flash! Nobody, anywhere — except in New Orleans’ City Hall — ever lost sight of the crime issue. Not once! But it has evidently been a hidden mine in a muddy field for NOLA’s leadership.

Will assistance from the State Police and National Guard stem this tide? Can they even get the Guard?

[...] it is unclear whether National Guard troops can be called into service for foot patrols almost 10 months after Hurricane Katrina. Officials said the governor supports the idea, but is investigating whether she can make it happen.

More to the point, do officials there have any idea what to do with help, even if they get it?

This entire situation just ticks me off! Ten months to get in front of this, but the crime “problem” was a low-key, barely discussed part of the recent elections.

The criminal justice system is still back-logged into the next century, there’s nowhere to put people once they’re arrested, the public defender system is buried… what a freaking mess.

Yup – it’s high time to bring some help into the city. Hopefully, they’ll call officials in Compton, or Boston, or NYC, and ask for advice while they’re at it — cuz this absolutely cannot continue.

The crime in New Orleans has been “the centerpiece” for a very long time, and if the city’s leaders don’t do something drastic right now – if outside help doesn’t rein it in — it’s hard to imagine what the future holds there.

6 Comments for 'Crime – the New Orleans “centerpiece”'

    June 19, 2006 | 9:36 pm

    Uzi’s “R” Us..

    I was thinking of opening this franchise at Jackson Square and renting various weapons to Tourists so they would feel safer. Silly Me..There are no more Tourists..

    June 20, 2006 | 10:39 am

    …or opening a business doing humvee tours of the quarter or of the lower 9th…
    this is ridiculous, how can the mayor imagine there will be any business moving or investing in the city, or tourists visiting, with the military in the streets… who wants to invest or vacation in afghanistan? this just goes to prove how failed the whole state, city and federal systems are… if the answer is always military, then iraq makes sense.
    how about overhauling the police, or asking for help from other police departments, trained to do police work, and not from the military, who are used to flex muscles and have no training in urban problems… plus the image problem, i can’t stress that enough!
    and what about adressing the causes of the problem: the education, the availability of guns… wouldn’t a gun ban in orleans parish help more? you have a gun on the street, you go to jail, don’t pass go!
    all the commanders in the NOPD need to get fired, and a national campaign to recruit capable ones has to be started, along with an increased police budget and local ordinances regulating street crime: no guns, no loitering, no waistlines lower than your ass, no booming your rap musing from the cars. ah, and a larger jail!
    my opinion…

    June 20, 2006 | 4:59 pm

    Hi Westrom – glad to hear from you (it’s been a while!) –

    and what about adressing the causes of the problem: the education, the availability of guns… wouldn’t a gun ban in orleans parish help more? you have a gun on the street, you go to jail, don’t pass go!

    Unless your intent is to check for those who have a Conceal // Carry licence, and somehow disarm those who don’t, that’s unconstitutional.

    OTOH, you also said,

    all the commanders in the NOPD need to get fired, and a national campaign to recruit capable ones has to be started, along with an increased police budget and local ordinances regulating street crime…

    While I’m not convinced that the problem rests necessarily on the NOPD as individual officers (I really do know some good ones…), the perception held by the community is a real factor.
    I’m glad, actually, to see enforcements coming in to support local law enforcement. New Orleans’ image problem can’t afford the time it will take for long… slow….. solutions.  Blueshead’s entrepreneurially-inspired “Uzi’s R Us”, tongue in cheek though it was, reflects the larger problem:  how the burgeoning crime affects the economy.

    June 21, 2006 | 3:42 pm

    polimom, i’ve been reading you regularly, as always, but had no time to write… but this is really a big issue.
    unconstitutional or not, there are areas where no guns are allowed (permit or no permit), such as airplanes, federal buildings, courthouses, public transportation, school/college campuses, etc… i really don’t see why a decision by a local comunity such as a city or parish can’t be made to not allow guns. i thought the whole system here is “more power to the locals” localities nationwide have the power to enforce whatever they want, if it gets adopted through a referendum; no alcohol on sundays, or none at all, no strippers, so a no-guns ordinance or local law adopted through a citywide referendum can really be enforced. but i’m no attorney, although i like to work for preserving whatever freedoms we still have. having a gun in orleans is not a freedom though IMHO, it is a liability for the city as a living organism.
    as for the police commanders, there might be many good ones, but the system doesn’t work. and in a democratic society – state or city, people resign or get demised, and better ones are called. or at least that’s how it should be. and if this continues, everyone should resign, starting with nagin and the newly elected councilpeople.

    June 21, 2006 | 4:11 pm

    Westrom — I agree with you totally that the issue is extremely serious.

    Re: gun bans. One of the major (and most valid, imho) arguments against gun controls is that the law-abiding citizens would comply, while the criminals would not. So basically, you end up with a disarmed citizenry but the still-armed madmen.

    The enormous rash of killings has been druggies and gangstas shooting one another, for the most part. (I actually spent two hours last night running the name of each person who has been killed so far this year through the Orleans Parish criminal docket. All but three or four had records. Those that did have records were all in there for drugs, and several for various degrees of murder)

    Eventually, though, it will spill out into the city at this pace… and even if it didn’t, the $$ won’t come there — tourism, new residents — with publicity like this.

    Gun bans won’t fix that.

    And those danged city “leaders”. Grrrr….. drives me crazy! Hardly anobody wanted to talk about the crime during the election, but I’ve yet to hear a plan to combat it. It was too hot, politically, to talk about. Now it’s blown up in everybody’s faces. Riley and Nagin, in particular, seem to be utterly inept in the face of this.

    But the entire CJ system is broken there, Westrom. All of it, from top to bottom. It always was the one thing that I’ve been most worried about: what will happen when the crime comes back.

    You might think about starting some citizens actions. Maybe petitions or something? Sigh… I’m so sorry it’s this bad again.

    January 10, 2007 | 1:28 pm

    [...] What’s going to be different from September 2005? Or in March 2006? Or June? Or from every other time the leaders of the city were going to “fix” this? [...]

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