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Plan to reduce murders in N.O. unveiled

28th November 2011   ·   0 Comments

Surrounded by local and federal law enforcement partners, leaders and clergy last week, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spelled out a plan to reduce murders based upon a model that has resulted in a 52 percent reduction in such crimes in Milwaukee since 2005.

Landrieu says the Strategic Command to Reduce Murders and Task Force One is a component of the SOS NOLA: Saving Our Sons Campaign and will rely equally on coordination between the city, local law enforcement, the Department of Justice and the community.

“The Strategic Command to Reduce Murders will provide a data-driven, multi-disciplinary, public health-informed approach to murder reduction that prevents and reduces crime in our city,” Landrieu said.

Criminal Justice Commissioner James Carter said the initiative has five core areas, which will focus on:

1.) Data-sharing through an executive action team wherein leaders from the Mayor’s office along with city, state and federal law enforcement agencies will meet monthly to exchange information and reports on progress.

2.) Immediate actions after murders occur. Law enforcement agencies will launch immediate investigations after murders occur and began connecting the families of murder victims with services.

3.) Sharing data about “open and closed murders that took place in the prior month” across agencies to identify trends.

4.) Utilizing community agencies to identify service capacity, to identify resource needs and to offer recommendations on prevention.

5.) Utilize the business community for workforce reentry opportunities for citizens and ex-offenders.

The model is based upon an initiative advanced by the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission.

Landrieu says significant investments have already been placed into the comprehensive initiative, including $250,000 for the Cease Fire initiative, $5 million for NORDC, approximately $2.7 million for homicide detectives, $2.7 million additional funding that allowed for additional JOB1 to triple youth summer jobs and a $4.2 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Rev. Raymond Brown, president of the New Orleans chapter of the New York-based National Action Network, was among a number of community leaders who tried unsuccessfully to enter last week’s meeting about violence in New Orleans. Also attending last week’s meeting was attorney Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, who has called into question documents that suggest some rules regarding the hiring of chief Ronal Serpas may have been broken.

Brown said Wednesday that he was disappointed with the mayor’s plan to curb violence in New Orleans.

“The mayor’s plan is lacking the most important component — a job-training facility for all of the city’s Black men who are underprivileged,” Brown told The Louisiana Weekly. “The inclusion of a job-training facility would have enhanced that initiative; without that, it isn’t going anywhere. It’s all about economics.”

Brown said it was unfortunate that the mayor hasn’t included Black community leaders in efforts to curb the city’s violent crime rate.

“I believe that the mayor has a set agenda and has his own little inner-circle clique, but that’s not democracy,” Brown told The Louisiana Weekly. “That’s not openness, that’s not transparency.

“The mayor should be open and allow other input regarding this crime wave and how to eradicate it. Shutting us out — that was a grave injustice. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he was Bull Connor, but he was imitating Bull Connor by telling his staff to block us from entering into a public building.”

The New Orleans branch of the NAACP called last week for an investigation into alleged inconsistencies surrounding last year’s return of New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

FOX 8 News reported last Monday that the documents in question show Serpas’ date of employment on his pension application form as May 6, 2010 — which the city says was a mistake, since he actually didn’t start work until the week after that.

FOX 8 also reported that payroll records indicate that Chief Serpas was paid by the city on May 10, even though he was still police chief of Nashville, and even though New Orleans paid interim chief Marlon Defillo a chief’s salary on that date as well.

Serpas has insisted that he did nothing wrong.

“None of that is accurate,” Serpas told FOX 8. “The date of hire has been clear from the very beginning. It’s May 6.”

When asked about the NAACP’s calls for a probe into the matter, Landrieu told FOX 8 News, “Danatus King and the NAACP have been against Chief Serpas since before he got here.”

NAACP branch president Danatus King said there should be an investigation into the alleged inconsistencies, since the chief runs the department with a “you lie, you die” zero-tolerance policy.

“If there was a mistake made on the date on that document, and mistakes made on other documents, then it shows either an incompetency on the part of the notary, and that the witnesses didn’t notice the date that was on, then that the person signing it didn’t notice the date was wrong,” King told FOX 8.

“That standoff with Black community leaders didn’t do a whole lot to win over some of the people in New Orleans who were already skeptical about the mayor’s agenda, given his refusal to even consider terminating Ronal Serpas after several scandals,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha told The Louisiana Weekly. “For those who didn’t already see it, it became crystal clear this week that Mitch Landrieu is sorely lacking in his people skills and has no interest in running an inclusive administration.

“For him, it’s all about winning and getting his way — by any means necessary.

“I don’t think he even begins to appreciate how he is undermining his own chances of making a real difference in New Orleans, but he will see it soon enough.”

This article was originally published in the November 28, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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