Monday, October 19, 2015

NOPD Mythbusting

This "explainer" article about crime in New Orleans by Robert Morris at Uptown Messenger is a must-read.  It also ran in the print edition of Gambit this week in case you happen to pick one of those up.

Of particular note, the article traces the supposed NOPD "manpower crisis" (debatable)  to a slowdown in hiring rather than anything Mitch Landrieu might have done to "run police off of the force," as many many reactionaries shout in to talk radio. Attrition and retirements have remained relatively stable throughout Mitch's term.

Also, of course the Confederate monuments issue has fuckall to do with crime in New Orleans. But, thanks to David Vitter's advertising, everyone is compelled to at least say that.

There's more but I think this is the bit that is getting... or should get.. the most attention.
And that, perhaps, illustrates the most pervasive myth about crime in New Orleans, that it is one neighborhood’s problem but not another’s, that it’s right to think in terms of “safe” or “unsafe” neighborhoods. District commanders frequently suggest that creating taxes for private security on upscale streets is likely less effective than improving policing in neighborhoods where shootings are more frequent. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite made this exact same point on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“The safety of the Garden District requires safety in Central City,” Polite said. “This is not an abstraction. It can be achieved, in our community, in our lifetime. So I implore you to move beyond passivity, into a love in action for our city. Get from behind your safe homes, get from behind your safe office buildings, and get out into our neighborhoods and continue to effect change in our world.”
Due to this fundamental misunderstanding, New Orleans has been carving itself up into Balkanized private security districts for decades now.  This is a problem that stands to be further compounded next week if French Quarter residents vote to approve yet another special tax for yet another partially privatized, neighborhood-specific police force. 

The reactionaries in the Quarter are all in favor. I'd suggest that they read Morris's article and reconsider, but I know better than to expect them to care about anything that happens in the city much beyond their own doorsteps.

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