Friday, 16 September 2011 16:05

New Orleans Doesn’t Need Crime Summit To Be US’s Safest City

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oh boy whoopee. another crime summit in new orleans. how many does this make? i’ve run out of fingers and toes counting. i guess the plan is to talk the violent criminals to death.

while new orleans continues its annual battle for the murder capital of america, we’ve decided that we need more talk.

as elvis said: a little less conversation, a little more action please.

 do we really need another dog and pony show with charts and speeches and open mikes and the same questions over and over? has this stuff ever worked?

instead, i suggest what new orleans needs is dramatic and effective action, a game-changer.

we need something that can be done within a four-year mayoral term, because, well, that’s obvious. to that end, i have a plan of my own to reduce crime, improve the integrity of nopd, and bring new businesses and their tax dollars here so that we can expand city services.

i call it WORST TO FIRST.

people will say it can’t be done because of politics and toes stepped on and priorities etc. i say what priority is higher than the lives and safety of our citizens? i say it can be done with sufficient political will. the objective isn’t not to be the murder capital. i propose that new orleans becomes the #1 safest metropolitan area in the u.s.


i propose that we immediately act to make the new orleans police department the best paid, best educated, best equipped, most professional police force of any major city in america; that we recruit and advertise nationwide that we are building the best-paid, most professional police force in america; and that we create a city budget mechanism and long-term economic plan to ensure that our police force remains the best-paid and best-performing force in america.

Grow and Improve the Force

according to the nopd public information office nopd currently has approximately 1360 officers. this is far too few for the violent crime capital. i know that studies say “for an area with “x” population, the number of officers should be “y”. but obviously those studies can’t/don’t apply in the murder capital. we need to quit hiding behind such numbers.

i propose that the city council pass legislation that will bring the starting salary of a full complement of not 1,500, or 1,750, or 2,000, but 2,200 new orleans police officers to $50,000 per year. i’ll explain funding shortly.

this will ensure that we are in a position to accept only the best, most qualified applicants and transfers from other departments. no more scraping the barrel, no more officers prone to corrupt behavior. no more screwed up police reports or investigations resulting in criminals walking free from our courtrooms.

because we’ll pay the best, we’ll be in a position to hire only the best: the best records of professional service, the best records of courtesy and professionalism in dealing with our citizens, the best at fighting crime.

for those who say more police on the street don’t matter, we have proof otherwise in our own recent past: in the mid-1990’s new orleans saw dramatic decreases in crime realized by the presence of more police on our streets. check the stats, and if you don’t trust the stats, just use your memories: the streets FELT safer, didn’t they? imagine if we had the best police force in the nation, at full force, working in our communities. ultimately, this would lead to less need for pouring more dollars into our court systems. while there are other aspects of our criminal justice system that require serious upgrading and overhaul it remains clear to me that the first line of defense must be….prevention.

Restore Public Confidence

there are hundreds of outstanding officers within the ranks of nopd. but the truth is that a large number of new orleanians have lost faith in nopd, and not without some well-documented reasons. this new initiative can address these issues and reinvigorate the relationship between our citizens and our police. 

How to Pay for It



common sense tells us that no significant number of major businesses are going to move their operations or their executives and employees to the Murder Capital.

would you? of course not.

this plan will send a loud and dramatic message across america that we’re serious about making new orleans the obvious place to call their business home;  the obvious place where ceo’s and all their employees can live in a safe city full of all the culture and wonder new orleans has to offer.

our best efforts to keep existing businesses here, as well as inducing more businesses and jobs hinge on giving people a safe place to live and enjoy life. anyone who thinks that our failure to keep and lure jobs here are not in large part related to the perception of new orleans as unsafe are, frankly, just kidding themselves.

this is a public safety issue. but make no mistake, it is also an economic development issue.

today we have no seriously expanding tax base from new businesses and jobs. our streets are permanently in a state of massive disrepair. city services are always in near-crisis mode due to forced cutbacks. firemen, teachers, city workers are not paid competitively. all this changes when we become the safest major metropolitan area in america.

businesses will move here, bringing quality jobs and the taxes that those jobs generate. housing sales will increase in quantity, price and pace due to demand, and bring with it all the taxes those properties will generate.

this will be the best opportunity we have had in decades to diversify and expand our tax base.  it’s time to understand that all these issues are interrelated, and that the future of our infrastructure, our schools, our city begin with making new orleans the SAFEST CITY IN AMERICA. then we’ll have the funds to fix the things in our city that we have existed in a state of mediocrity for all these years. 




we slash the budgets across the board for all departments and agencies except police and fire departments. let’s be honest: city services have fallen short of what our citizens deserve for years.  these cuts would be in place for four years, and during that time, with a dramatic drop in violent crime, more businesses will take a fresh look at new orleans. more visitors will come. more jobs will be created. and our tax base will expand to the point where, finally, we’ll be able to fix what ails our city properly, from potholes and broken pipes on up.

i sincerely believe that there are many fine public servants who got into public service because they saw the city we love heading in the wrong direction. i think we’re turning things around, but we now have to move at light speed to make our city safe, in order to finally, genuinely make this the great city we know it deserves to be. the safest city in america.

so in exchange for a chance to be great, i ask our citizens and officials to take a look at our city and decide what’s really important, what can really turn our city around starting now, and make the right choice for the future of our city, our children, and ourselves.

so what if we have to drive slower over our potholes for a few more years while the murder rate drops? isn’t it worth this opportunity, knowing that if we are successful, we will actually have the safest city in america? the chance to live and work and play and share in the peace and safety we so richly deserve? isn’t it worth it if new businesses see that new orleans is the safest place for their businesses, their families, and their futures? and when they bring their jobs and their new sources of revenue we can finally deal with all our other problems borne of a stagnant and shriveling tax base? is it worth it? of course it’s worth it.

because if we continue to live in the violent crime capital, the status quo will be all that’s left.

Sid Arroyo-sid arroyo

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Sidney Arroyo

Sidney Arroyo is a progressive political activist and consultant who has worked on numerous campaigns in the New Orleans area.

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