The shootings add to the carnival of carnage that has ushered in 2012. While the national murder rate is declining, New Orleans, the Murder Capital of the nation, is becoming even deadlier.
At the same time, there is turmoil within the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). Police Chief Ronal Serpas is under increasing assault from the inside of his department and from the community at large. Activists like the Reverend Raymond Brown are openly calling for Chief Serpas to resign. The President of the Police Association of New Orleans (PANO), Captain Michael Glasser, is doing media interviews regarding the low morale of his fellow officers.
Several of the Chief’s initiatives aimed at fighting crime have been abandoned after intense public criticism. Chief Serpas rescinded his practice of releasing the criminal history of crime victims. He also reversed his decision to place orange placards on the homes of drug suspects. The placard policy was changed after only one day of outrage from critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union. To make matters even worse, the criminal justice system is in turmoil as both the Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizarro and Police Chief Serpas blame a revolving door at Tulane and Broad for exacerbating the crime problem.
These disturbing developments are happening during the city’s most popular festival, Mardi Gras, and just weeks away from New Orleans hosting the NCCA College Basketball Final Four tournament, one of the nation’s biggest sporting events.
As New Orleans embarks on the final days of Mardi Gras 2012, there is a definite perception that the city is in crisis and a real concern about public safety. The murder rate is up, the number of criminals is increasing while the number of police officers in declining. The rank and file of the NOPD are as unhappy as most of the people in New Orleans.
The high profile nature of many of the recent crimes has added to a sense that crime is everywhere and accelerating. A Good Samaritan was killed trying to help a woman being carjacked. Near the Algiers Ferry landing on the west bank, a woman was attacked while walking home. Because of staffing shortages, it took police 80 minutes to respond. An innocent young child was killed at a playground as criminals shot indiscriminately into a crowd of people. A home health nurse, trying to care for a patient, was abducted from her vehicle and gang raped in a Central city lot by six young thugs. Shootings on the parade route just add to the overall perception of a city under siege.
Long term answers include bolstering the family unit and improving our public schools. In the short term we must strengthen both the police and the criminal justice system. The people of New Orleans and its visitors will not feel safe until law enforcement presence is enhanced.
Currently, there are too few officers to give law abiding citizens a feeling of comfort. Therefore, the military police unit of the Louisiana National Guard, along with a contingent of State Police must be assigned to New Orleans to address this crime emergency.
It will provide needed short term relief until long term solutions can be implemented.
Precious time is being wasted while local residents and tourists are being victimized by brazen criminals.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal can rectify this situation by ordering units of the National Guard and State Police to descend upon New Orleans and help the understaffed NOPD.
It must be done, the sooner the better. Governor Jindal, are you listening?
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
VIDEO BELOW: 2009 Shooting on Mardi Gras on St. Charles Ave.
TALK ABOUT THIS CRIME ISSUE BELOW--WHAT SHOULD THE CITY/STATE DO?: