Guest Column: Tackling Crime in New Orleans Should Involve a Holistic Approach

crime-scene-in new orleans

Recently the Wall Street Journal printed a headline stating, “New Orleans Has America’s No.1 Murder Rate. ‘We’re in a Crisis.” A headline that not only affects our hospitality industry, but also the safety and psyche of the people who live and work here.

If we want to fix this crisis, consider the following solutions:

First, breakdown the murders to determine who, why and where. Thereafter, you can develop a tactical plan to target the violent crimes being committed in our city.

  • If the murders are drug related, then the NOPD along with the FBI/DEA must identify, investigate, and infiltrate major drug dealers.
  • If the murders are connected to domestic violence, then the Mayor, NOPD, Sheriff, District Attorney, judges, healthcare providers, and schools, should be integral parts of a comprehensive holistic policy shepherded by the Family Justice Center to address domestic violence.
  • If the murders are linked to armed robbery and carjacking, then more officers must be strategically deployed to hot spots.
    It is a tactic I recommended in a Guest Column, “An all-hands-on-deck approach to crime”(The Advocate July 2021), which was recently echoed by a study from the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.
  • If the murders are what I call, arguments with guns, such as road rage, landlord and tenant arguing over rent, or a young person feeling “disrespected,” because something was said, then we need a strong proactive police presence, which can deter someone from using a weapon.
    We can support adults known as violence interrupters, to step in and help de-escalate arguments, particularly among young people, before they get out of control.

Second, we have to address some internal issues within the NOPD, namely recruitment, morale and retention.

The NOPD must reach out to veterans’ organizations and local historically Black universities to recruit and improve community relations, particularly in light of the George Floyd demonstrations.

  • The NOPD must work closely with Civil Service for improved entry testing turnaround, improved coordination of the personal field investigation and background testing for timely onboarding.
    Once applicants have successfully completed the Civil Service testing, cursory requirements and placed on the hiring register; they must be interviewed immediately to determine whether the department should invest resources with applicants.
  • The NOPD can improve morale and reduce retention by implementing objective criteria and a written examination to become a detective and when applying to specialized units.
    This would end the perception of, “who you know, rather than what you know,” for advancement in the department.

Third, we need more police officers. But even if we net 100 officers yearly, it would be 5 years to reach 1,400 officers.

Consequently, we need to do things now to reduce and prevent crime.

  • We should implement early childhood learning in the public elementary schools and daycare centers across the city.
  • Our youth 6-18 year olds should have the opportunity to attend summer camps with enrichment programs in the neighborhood public schools, and the older kids being paid to be camp counselors.
  • We should reconfigure NORD to primarily, but not exclusively, focus on four areas-sports, technology, music and art, bring back park supervisors to individual playgrounds to keep kids active throughout the year and work with high schools to teach skill trades, technology and entrepreneurship.
  • We should collaborate with our colleges and universities to utilize their resources, skills and knowledge to make this happen.

If we implement these solutions, we will be safe and improve our children’s academic skills and economic opportunities; because when you reduce juvenile crime, you reduce adult crime.

We don’t have to live like this, our crisis can be fixed and with the right people, having the right ideas doing the right thing, we can have solutions, not excuses.

Former Judge Arthur L. Hunter, Jr. was a New Orleans police officer and served as Chief Judge, and judge of Mental Health Court, Reentry Court and Veteran’s Treatment Court.

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