By Devin Bartolotta | WWL-TV | February 10, 2022


LAKEVIEW, La. — The flashing blue lights of police cars have become all too familiar. But in Lakeview Thursday night, they signaled a community coming together against the violent crime surge in New Orleans.

Residents met with the Lakeview Crime Prevention District Officers and each other to show support and discuss ways to make their community safer.

In front of a crowd of several dozen residents, police units in the Lakeview Grocery lot turned on lights and sirens, then paraded down Harrison Avenue to applause from the neighborhood.

“New Orleans is a beautiful city. It has so many wonderful things about it. But it has deteriorated sharply,” said Jane LaRose, a Lakeview resident.

“I won’t be going to Mardi Gras parades because I’m too scared. I don’t know who’s standing next to me.”

Councilman Joe Giarrusso spoke with residents, too. He says he understands the frustration in neighborhoods across the city.

“When carjackings are up, murders are up, nonfatal shootings are up, people get concerned,” said Giarrusso.

While there’s support for those getting criminals off the street, the man tasked with keeping them off the street is under the microscope.

At a news conference Thursday, District Attorney Jason Williams owned up to his part in allowing hundreds of accused criminals to walk free without criminal charges, under a code that allows suspects to be released if charges aren’t filed in a timely manner.

This is called a “701 release,” and a new Metro Crime Commission report shows Williams let more than a thousand suspected criminals go free in this manner. Williams claims the report is not entirely accurate.

“When someone says, says ‘oh, well, yeah, this is the DA’s fault’… some of it is my fault,” said Williams. “There are a lot of other shoulders that bear responsibility in dealing with the circumstances we’re in now.”

Williams says manpower in his office is part of the problem. He asked the city for funding to allow for overtime and to hire more attorneys and evidence analysts to sift through the mountain of criminal cases piling up in this crime surge.

“So let me be abundantly clear, as far as the 701 issue is concerned, we are owning it. We are fixing it. And we will share the results of our efforts to do so,” he said.

Williams also announced a restricting of his staff and vowed change.

But back in Lakeview, residents want more than promises. They want proof.

Brian Anderson, President of the Lakeview Crime Prevention District said,

“I think right now though, residents are scared. They’re scared in their homes, they’re scared to go to the grocery store, they’re scared to pump gas. And they’re just not getting the answers they need from the people that should be answering the questions.”

While they say Thursday’s show of unity in Lakeview is a start, they’re beyond ready for a safer New Orleans.