By Newell Normand | WWL Radio | November 10, 2020
The Metropolitan Crime Commission has released their 2019-2020 Orleans Parish crime report, which includes some eye-catching statistics about calls for service, arrests, inmate population trends and more, and today, Mayor Cantrell’s administration reacted by sending out Communications Director Beau Tidwell to deliver comments.
“We want to be very clear,” Tidwell began. “The rising violent crime we are seeing in New Orleans is not unique to New Orleans, and did not begin with the furloughs. It’s being dealt with nationwide in cities all over the country, and seems to be part of the overall experience of 2020. As a part of the pandemic, part of the extreme strain everyone is under, one additional element we are seeing nationwide is a rise in violent crime.”
Newell invited Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche onto the program to respond.
“I don’t take any pleasure in presenting a report as alarming as the one we made on Monday,” Goyeneche said. “These numbers are not derived out of thin air, we derived these numbers about calls for service, arrests and inmate population from the city, from NOPD and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office. So the comments from the spokesperson saying that this report makes things feel more dangerous than they seem, and that a spike does not a trend make – my definition of a spike is something that occurs over a short period of time, but this is for all of 2020.”
“I don’t remember anybody creating a parallel where furloughs and the incidents of violent crime were connected,” Newell said. “To the contrary, what we’ve been talking about is the Mayor doing this across-the-board ten percent cut, as opposed to looking at the services provided, the utility of what they do. I’ve been saying for years, that does not exhibit credible leadership. You’ve got to dig down into the details to see where the priorities need to be. By doing a ten percent across-the-board cut is that the priority is the same every department, and that analysis is far too simple. The operations of city government are far more complex than that.”
“I spoke to Chief Ferguson before we released this, I gave him an advance copy of this report, he was well aware, and he didn’t get back to me an object to anything in it,” Goyeneche continued. “I recognize you’re never going to find a police chief that’s going to speak out and challenge his appointing authority. We’ve never seen that and we never will. I don’t fault the CHief for any of this, he’s got to make lemonade out of the lemons he’s got. It would be better to change the city charter, and have the police chief elected by the public, rather than have them answerable to politicians who may be putting politics over public safety.”