Comprehensive Crime Plan

COMPREHENSIVE CRIME PLAN

“A safe city is essential to economic growth and prosperity . . . and economic opportunity for all is essential to a safe city.” –Desiree Charbonnet

The strategy: Start immediately and work simultaneously for the long term. This is a comprehensive five-year plan to address crime and public safety with a holistic approach that includes both immediate action items and directly addresses the long-term root causes of crime.

IMMEDIATE ACTION ITEMS

  • Conduct a nationwide search for the best Police Chief. The process should include input from the community and members of the police force. We must hire the best available Police Chief (whether within or outside of the department), and give her or him the latitude to run the department without daily interference and micromanaging from the mayor’s office.
  • Increase the size of NOPD . . . we will add 80-100 new officers to the force each year for the next five years to bring the size of the force to over 1,500 officers.
  • Focus attention on the five Rs of making NOPD more effective:

RECRUIT

Max out recruitment classes as allowed by the federal consent decree; recruit retired and veteran officers to return to NOPD, and target recruits with U.S. military experience.

REORGANIZE

Revitalize the Reserve Police Division, create specialized two-man “Rapid Response Units” and use available crime stats and gunshot detection technology to provide rapid  response to gunfire and high priority criminal activity.

REDEPLOY

Train and use civilians and non-commissioned personnel to conduct traffic investigations and administrative functions now consuming the critical time of commissioned police officers. This may require legislative action, but we want more officers on the streets, not behind a desk or writing traffic accident reports.

RETAIN

Retention is not just about pay (though that’s part of the story). Officer morale, fairness in policies and procedures, and opportunities for advancement and improvement are all key to retaining well-trained officers. The city invests heavily whenever we train new officers, and we have to retain them in order for that investment to pay off. Retention efforts should include salary increases, but must also include other incentives, e.g. housing and education preferences, and revamping and reforming the Office of Secondary Employment. We should be creative in using inclusionary zoning requirements for new private housing developments to include preferences for police officers. In redevelopment of residential properties owned by the City of New Orleans or its agencies, there should be additional preferences for police officers.

RESPONSE TIME

We must reduce the response time for 911 calls to five minutes or less by creating “Rapid Response Units.” These would be units of two officers strategically deployed throughout the city. Their only mission would be to respond to emergency 911 calls involving violence, home intrusions or crimes in process. The U.S. military has incorporated this concept in its deployment strategies, and it will prove effective in dramatically decreasing the response time to emergencies.

Deploy the Best Technology Available to Leverage our Personnel Resources

While technology cannot solve all problems, sound and effective use of technology can make our city safer and our police force more effective. We must develop smart policing strategies using advanced technologies, including crime cameras, license-plate recognition, gunshot detection technology, and data-oriented policing strategies that help our officers spot trends earlier and head off problems quicker. We have a manpower problem, and technology can help us make sure we’re using our most valuable resources, our officers, for the most important tasks. For example, we need GPS equipment and location software for each car. Just as Uber knows where each car is and can send the closest vehicle, our police should have that capability. Additionally, officers should also have a department-issued smart phone that would help us locate them, and give them a much greater range of tools at their disposal when responding to community needs. We all know the power a smart phone puts in our pocket; our police need that same technology in order to be effective.

It is a well-established fact that many violent crimes in our community are committed using stolen vehicles. In many other jurisdictions, stolen vehicles are recovered and the thieves apprehended using crime cameras and license plate recognition technology. These effective tools must be made available to our NOPD officers.

Implement an Extensive and Aggressive Community Policing Program

Community policing is both an essential strategy and a long-time buzzword. We will make it a reality. The new way of doing “community policing” focuses on solving community problems. It means fostering better communications between residents and police, establishing relationships of credibility in neighborhoods, and getting things done. The key to its success is support and commitment from the city administration and all departments—from the top all the way down. When police officers make requests on behalf of the community, the city administration must follow through. 

The French Quarter Task Force was a good recent example of combining both technology and community policing to make a big impact on crime. It was a citizen-led effort, innovative, and I will insist that similar intensity be applied across the city. In any place where crime is a problem, a tight relationship between police and the community and sound use of technology are essential ingredients in the solution.

Create and Maintain a Jobs Program for Youth

One of the most frustrating elements of our crime problem is that the set of people committing crimes is small compared to the overall population. Our neighborhoods are held hostage to a small band of mostly young people who have lost hope and often see no alternative to the street. The most expensive way, both in dollars and (more importantly) human costs, to address their behavior is after they’ve committed a crime. We need to engage them early and provide attractive alternatives—that’s what it means to get to the root causes of crime and prevent it before it starts. There is no greater teacher of virtue than work. That’s why my administration will help channel at-risk young people toward summer and year-round jobs. This will require the participation of our business community to help create these jobs and fill positions they already have with at-risk youth. These young people can be mentored, apprenticed, and trained to be both productive workers in our economy and citizens who contribute to our community.

Expand and Support Mentoring Programs

Mentoring has shown tangible results in many places in the fight against crime. It’s not just a feel-good approach. Programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Silverbacks, Son of a Saint, Each One Save One, and 100 Black Men really work. My administration will be a good partner with school systems and local mentoring programs. Much of neighborhood life flows through schools, and strong relationships and free-flowing channels of communication between educators and para-educators and City Hall is vital to the effort to get to the root causes of crime. 

Improve Cooperation with Neighborhood, Faith-based, Business and Non-profit Organizations

From the perspective of city government, faith-based organizations and other non-profits are not just worthy charities, but key partners in a holistic approach to reducing crime and making the city safe. They deserve a seat at the table and respect for the crucial part they play in intervening in the lives of at-risk youth and rehabilitating ex-offenders. My administration will make it a priority to prevent people from becoming offenders in the first place, and to steer them away from a return to crime once they have been released. The revolving door at the jail has to stop.

Improve Cooperation and Coordination with Partners in the Criminal Justice System

We have access to assets and resources of federal, state, local, and regional authorities that are not being used to their fullest potential. My administration will leave no offer of help unaccepted, no partnership underutilized, and will explore cooperative agreements wherever they will increase the efficiency of our use of resources while minimizing costs. We will also work to ensure that each partner agency is adequately funded. Beyond New Orleans, this process must include strengthening relationships with neighboring parishes. They have an interest in a safer New Orleans, and they can be valuable partners.

We Will Fund This Plan Without Raising Taxes

Because of my experience in the judicial system, I know that there are efficiencies to be gained in places and new sources of money to be dedicated that will mean we can accomplish everything described here without raising taxes. It’s a matter of priorities, creativity, and innovation. Below are the specifics of how we’ll achieve this. We will:

1. Rededicate existing millages which are not obligated to service bonds, e.g. “Economic Development” yields approximately $3.65 million per year and “Housing Trust Fund” yields approximately $6.6 million per year.

2.  Improve collection of sales taxes. We have a situation very much like “dead beat parents” in family court, only in this case citizens have paid sales taxes to businesses that have not paid the taxes forward to the city. We will improve the processes by which taxes are collected, both making it easier for people to comply with the law and aggressively pursuing compliance to ensure they do so.

3.  Commit a percentage  of New Revenue for Public Safety Plans. Beginning in 2018, the city should dedicate to public safety plans a percentage of new tax dollars from sales taxes and property taxes coming in from new developments and projects. This approach will not require cuts in current budget items.

4. Dedicated a percentage of taxes or income from sale or rental of all city owned assets. Beginning in 2018, as the city rents or sells assets, generating new revenue sources, my administration will fence off a portion of the proceeds for public safety. Again, this will not require cuts to existing budget items and will not be a new tax. It is simply a commitment that new tax dollars ought to go to our highest priority, public safety.

5. Dedicate a percentage of taxes generated by all new developments in the city. As the city grows and more businesses come, my administration will ensure that an appropriate portion of this new money is set aside and dedicated to public safety.

6. Seek permission from the Federal Court to modify the NOPD Consent Decree in order to reduce the amount of money paid by the city to monitor the provisions of the consent decree. To be direct, the monitor costs too much money, and the functions can and should be done for less.