Congressman Troy Carter & Sen. Bill Cassidy Help Make New Orleans Safer

Photo source: Danae Columbus

The New Orleans Police Department and its partnering agencies scored a big win Friday, April 5 when Congressman Troy Carter announced a $3.3 million dollar grant for criminal justice initiatives aimed at increasing the city’s crime-fighting capabilities. “With this grant we are sending a message that we are not going to tolerate crime,” said Carter. By giving the City of New Orleans the necessary tools to push back against crime, the city will be safer, Carter continued.  

The funds will be used to enhance technology at the new NOPD Crime Lab which is operated by Dr. Shamika Kelley and for violence interruption programs associated with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordination under the direction of Tenisha Stevens. The funding was secured in the 2024 spending bills Community Project Funding requests by Congressman Carter and Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. Cassidy was unable to attend the event. 

Carter believes that by utilizing technology to analyze DNA samples, the NOPD and the District Attorney’s office can make good cases and get more criminals off the streets. Cities across the U.S. never have enough financial resources to satisfy the needs for the latest technology, equipment and other specialized services. New Orleans is blessed with Washington leaders who have the relationships and ability to deliver the funding which bridges the gaps.     

“The City remains focused on getting the necessary resources to not only build back better but to secure the tools and equipment needed to outfit our crime lab for the 21st century,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell explained. “We are one of the only cities in the U.S. getting it done. Building partnerships and focusing on real solutions is the only way to make progress happen.” 

Previously New Orleans had been utilizing state resources for DNA testing. “We will stay focused on improving and being better than we were from Hurricane Katrina. Partnerships is the only way to go, and our federal partners understand the spirit of collaboration and the need for these resources to get the job done,” Cantrell said.

In 2022, 265 lives were lost in New Orleans to violence. Carter said this funding offers a lifeline and provides crucial support for public safety enhancements to curb the violence plaquing the community. “By addressing the root causes of violence and providing comprehensive intervention including cognitive behavioral therapy, case management and community outreach, this initiative will make strides in reducing crime rates and fostering a safer, more resilient city. This funding represents an investment in public safety and a commitment to building a brighter, more secure future for all residents,” he said.  

As part of this allocation, Carter secured $963,000 for Violence Intervention programs and Cassidy secured $2.4 million for equipment for the NOPD Crime Lab. “With adequate funding the New Orleans Crime Lab can tackle the backlog and reduce the number of crimes that go unsolved,” Dr. Cassidy said. “We made it a top priority to secure this funding because every victim deserves justice.” The crime lab will be outfitted with leading edge forensic software and forensic hardware equipment along with other critical resources for the DNA unit. “This appropriation is another tremendous step toward DNA accreditation that will help bring fair and timely administration of justice,” said Dr. Kelly, the crime lab director.

Police Chief Anne Kilpatrick praised Cantrell as “a woman of action” for her ability to move the city forward. Fighting crime takes more than just manpower, said Kilpatrick. It also takes special tools, equipment and programs which reach into the community and work on the root causes of violence and crime.

“Violence is a Health Crisis,” said Ernest Johnson, co-founder and director of Ubuntu Village NOLA. “It’s impossible for one organization/institution to address all the issues.  It takes a collective response from multiple stakeholders.” Ubuntu Village connects young people and families to resources as well as a space to reflect and to grow.

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