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Residents weigh in on performances of D.A., police chief

16th October 2017   ·   0 Comments

Although Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond and NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison were not on last week’s ballot, their performances in office significantly impact the city and its residents in many ways.

Despite the fact that Cannizzaro and Richmond were not up for reelection this year and police superintendent is an appointed position, the recent WWL-TV/New Orleans Advocate poll asked local residents to assess their performances.

According to the poll, 60 percent of respondents said they approve of NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison’s job performance while 21 percent said they disapproved.

“I think what this shows is that the voters in the city are not blaming Chief Harrison for the crime problem,” Ron Faucheux, pollster and president of Clarus Research Group, told WWL News. “But on the other hand, I think voters, because they’re so concerned about crime and what is and isn’t being done, they are looking for change at the same time.”

The survey found that 63 percent of those polled approved of the job the NOPD is doing, despite the fact that the department is undermanned and in the midst of a federally mandated consent decree aimed at bringing it up to federal standards for constitutional policing.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the performance of the NOPD.

However, when asked, many say crime in the city is one of their main concerns. On a scale of one to 10, 72 percent said it’s a 10, making it the top issue.

Faucheux told WWL News that means the chief’s job may not be safe, despite high marks from residents.

“Appointing the police chief will be the most important decision that a new mayor will make when they come into office and so one of the first questions will be do you keep the incumbent, or do you look for somebody else,” he said.

As for Congressman Cedric Richmond, who has represented New Orleans from Louisiana’s Second Congressional District since 2011 and is currently serving as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, 59 percent of those polled approved of his job performance. Twenty-four percent disapproved.

Faucheux said those are high marks in the current political climate. And his bi-partisan relationship with Republican Congress-man Steve Scalise, who has worked alongside Richmond since the two were in the Louisiana Legislature, may play a role in that.

“The fact of the matter is they have worked together over time and have worked together for the area in a lot of the local issues I think has probably worked to Cedric Richmond’s advantage in terms of his approval in New Orleans.”

Congressman Richmond endorsed Desiree Charbonnet in the recent mayoral primary and Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, whose district includes Algiers, the French Quarter and the Faubourg Tremé.

As for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, 46 percent of the poll’s respondents said they approve of the job he’s doing, while 31 percent say they do not.

“I think there’s been a lot of issues related to crime and criminal justice and his fight with the mayor and some other things that may have played a role in that,” Faucheux said. The District Attorney has managed to weather several recent scandals that may have hurt his approval rating as well, including prosecutors in his office sending out fake subpoenas and jailing rape victims to get their testimony, Faucheux added.

Cannizzaro was also criticized earlier this year for considering a heavy-handed prosecution of a man arrested for stealing candy from a local dollar store. He was also taken to task after he accused the mayor of undermining the D.A.’s Office’s efforts to improve public safety and for siding with La. Attorney General Jeff Landry in his efforts to impose a crime initiate on the City of New Orleans that would utilize police from other law enforcement agencies across the state.

The poll, which was conducted by telephone Sept. 25-27, surveyed 500 likely registered voters in Orleans Parish.

This article originally published in the October 16, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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