By Newell Normand | WWL Radio | August 18, 2020
City leaders can’t or won’t stand up to social justice reformers
Every day seems to bring more bad news about crime in New Orleans. Like many of America’s major cities, New Orleans is experiencing an uptick in crime and gun violence, amid a vitriolic conversation about the future of policing. To help explain what’s going on and unpack the city government’s response, Newell invited the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Rafael Goyeneche onto the show Tuesday morning.
“Hardly a day goes by where we don’t see drive-by shootings, multiple shootings, the ages get younger and younger, carjackings seem to be back… NOPD and other law enforcement agencies are facing these myriad challenges,” Newell began. “Your thoughts?”
“There are a lot of reasons for all of this,” Goyeneche said. “From the cyberattack last year that limited the city’s IT capabilities and also impacted NOPD, the manpower crisis that started under the Landrieu administration… couple that with the consent decree, the pandemic, and the protests. Because there are fewer officers, and because there were problems with the district task force units that were conducting proactive policing, the Superintendent was forced to sideline those units, which means the police department lost their proactive policing capabilities. So now they’re responding to calls for service when a crime was already committed. Violent crime is up, shootings, homicides are up – as of yesterday, there were 111 in the city versus 80 in 2019 over the same period of time.”
“There are a number of elected officials around the country trying to blame this uptick in crime on the pandemic,” Newell continued. “I’ve tried to look at this objectively from every angle possible, and I just don’t see that connection here. The connection I see is going back to the dialogue created around over-incarceration, over-criminalization, trying to manipulate outcomes of failed policies like reducing jail populations in a haphazard way that has come back to haunt us.”
“I agree,” Goyeneche said. “Part of the reason the public loses confidence in law enforcement is if a witness or victim cooperates with police and they make that arrest and the witness realizes the person arrested was released. That makes the victim or witness question the criminal justice system. And if they see that offender back in their neighborhood and question if they’re putting themselves at risk, it becomes a self-perpetuating problem.”
“How concerned are you, in light of the pandemic’s impacts on revenue and the movement to defund and dismantle, that we will begin to see a move to underfund the police department because there is just no money there?” Newell asked.
“That’s a concern – it’s very simplistic to say that our revenue is down, and so we’re going to cut everybody by the same percentage, and in my opinion, that’s not the way to go,” Goyeneche answered. “A foundation of prosperity is based on public safety. We’re not going to cut levee inspections because that’s so fundamental to the quality and safety of life here, so to say that we’re going to cut law enforcement funding by the same amount as some other agency that’s less essential than public safety is an indication of poor leadership. We’re going to have to make some tough decisions, but the effective leaders are going to have to prioritize what’s most important to their community.”
Listen to the full interview by playing the media file below, or click here to listen on WWL Radio.