By Janon Fisher | Daily Mail | June 9, 2022
A New Orleans city councilman is suggesting bringing in reinforcements as crime in the city spikes, homicides are on track to reach record highs and the police force struggles with chronic understaffing.
‘Maybe it’s time to talk about bringing in the National Guard,’ District E Councilman Oliver Thomas, who heads the criminal justice committee, told Fox News after a weekend of chaos in the Big Easy.
As of June 5, 2022, there were 123 murders in New Orleans. At the same time last year, there were 84 murders in the city. And in 2019, there were 65 killings, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
The New Orleans police department is currently experiencing a personnel crisis, according to the city’s police union.
‘We’re designed to operate and keep this city safe with 1,600 officers. We’re now barely over 1,000, and if you deduct the individuals that are in our administrative duties division… we’re looking at barely over 900 officers,’ Police Association of New Orleans Capt. Mike Glasser told the City Council in May. ‘And the problem isn’t that we’re stable at 900 officers. We’re losing officers daily.’
Only 14 police officers were assigned to Thomas’s district over the weekend, which he says is insufficient.
‘Fourteen is not enough,’ he told the news channel.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has defended the police department’s performance, telling Fox 8 News in early May that ‘the trend is moving in the right direction relative to violent crime.’
Cantrell has also recently been criticized for failing to take a public stand amid the violence.
‘I think there’s a feeling of hopelessness now,’ Robert Collins, Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University told Fox8Live. ‘I think what makes it worse is that we haven’t seen the mayor as often as people would like recently.’
Murder in New Orleans isn’t the only crime that’s out-of-control.
Armed robbery climbed 23 percent and carjacking is up eight percent so far this year. Compared to 2019, carjacking is up 180 percent.
Shootings are the only category of violent crime that’s decreased since last year, though they are still historically high.
Overall there’s a general sense that the southern city is in chaos, according to the city councilman.
Over the weekend, two men were hit by a car during a gathering of people organized on social media to watch an unauthorized street car show.
Video shows drivers doing donuts, blocking traffic, belching tire smoke and creating a general nuisance.
Recording of the scene shows hundreds of young men lining the sidewalks and walking in the street.
Video shows a red Mustang convertible zooming through the crowd, striking two men and sending them flying up over the top of the car. The impact knocked the shoes off one of the men, according to WDSU News.
In another clip, a driver spins out right in front of a New Orleans police SUV stopped at a traffic light, nearly striking several pedestrians in the street.
When the police put on their lights and sirens, young men at the gathering jump on the vehicle preventing it from moving.
The men start jumping up and down on the hood of the car as police do nothing to stop them.
Kat Brennan, the owner of the Crawfish King, located near Franklin and Filmore streets where the men were hit, said she called police, but they were slow to react.
‘Police can’t get in and when they do there’s only one officer that shows up,’ she told WDSU News. ‘We have a panic button here. We pressed it and sometimes they don’t come at all.’
‘This outburst of indiscriminate crime in too many of our cities includes New Orleans,’ Thomas told Fox News. ‘People want a balanced response. We want to reform the system. We want 21st-century policing. We want respect for the law, just like we want respect for our citizens, but we don’t want to see anything goes.’
‘When I use the term Gotham City, too often there are people who think in our cities and in New Orleans that they can do what they want, when they want, how they want, where they want, and to whom they want,’ he added.
The councilman’s call for the National Guard to be brought in has met with both support and skepticism.
When asked by a local reporter if military support for New Orleans is realistic, Thomas said: ‘If it’s realistic to save lives. If it’s realistic to stop these people to come in, take over and shoot up our town. If it’s realistic to stop them from disrespecting our municipal, criminal and civic laws, that may be the only realistic thing we can count on.’
High crime could affect the city’s economy, which relies on tourists flocking to the city’s French Quarter and jazz festival.
New Orleans officers have put some officers on 12-hour shifts for the summer months and the department will bring in the state police to assist with policing high crime areas under a program dubbed Operation Golden Eagle.
Just Wednesday, at about 10:30 p.m. a 16-year-old boy became yet another murder victim and a 17-year-old girl was wounded in the Algiers section of the city.
The city was stunned in March when a 73-year-old grandmother, Linda Frickey, 73, had her arm ripped off when it became tangled in a seatbelt and she was dragged to death during a carjacking.
In May, 80-year-old Augustine Greenwood was walking back to her car after attending her grandson’s high school graduation ceremony when she was struck and killed by a stray bullet.
Two others were also killed during the daylight shooting.
‘I think [this is] only the third or fourth time since the late 90s that we’ve been above 90 murders through April,’ Jeff Asher, who runs New Orleans public safety consulting firm, AH Datalytics, said. ‘If you think, in all of 2019, we had 121 murders. So obviously we’ve seen this dramatic increase in murders, that really started middle half of 2020.’
New Orleans isn’t the only city looking to the armed forces for help.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said on Monday that he would deploy the National Guard to Chicago to tamp down violent crime.
‘I have never, ever hesitated when asked by local law enforcement, when asked by local mayors to provide help from the National Guard,’ Pritzker said Monday. ‘I have done that several times…We’ll call them out whenever they are needed.’
The Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown threw cold water on the idea, however, saying that they don’t have the power to enforce local laws.
‘There’s a very limited use for the National Guard,’ he said. ‘A word to the wise. I would say to those trying to fit the National Guard into a policing role, they’re not under a policing model to be able to enforce state law or municipal law. They couldn’t, for example, stop people for drug or gun possession.’
He said that the military could be used for crowd and traffic control and guarding facilities.