November 30, 2022

New Orleans political candidates will face high crime to take office

“One is the problem, it’s the police. The (other) problem is not enough police, ”said Dr Scharf.

NEW ORLEANS – With municipal election qualifications now complete, you’ll soon be hearing from many candidates running for office in New Orleans. Like so many previous elections, public safety and crime will be areas of concern. Homicides, shootings and carjackings in New Orleans are up double digits from last year. These numbers are even higher since 2019. The municipal elections will be held in the fall, and soon, the candidates will lay out their plans to reduce crime in the city.

“I think we need evidence and facts, not rhetoric,” said Dr Peter Scharf.

Dr Scharf is a criminologist at LSU Health Sciences in New Orleans. He says that in a post-George Floyd world, there seem to be two opposing views on the police.

“One is the problem, it’s the police. The (other) problem is not enough police, ”said Dr Scharf.

Not having enough police officers is a challenge facing New Orleans right now. An eyewitness investigation this week detailed how NOPD’s membership is at its lowest in 45 years. Dr Scharf says any candidate’s plan will need to find ways to increase recruitment and reduce attrition. Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson told Mike Perlstein this week that he is considering bringing in other city workers for non-emergency situations in hopes of freeing uniformed officers to deal with violent crime.

“We also want to look at opportunities like delegating our sanitation, public works, or even our code enforcement so they can deal with quality of life issues,” said Chief Ferguson.

Other major US cities are experiencing similar challenges with staffing and increasing violent crime. At a press conference last month, Mayor Latoya Cantrell and other city officials said they believe problems with the COVID-19 pandemic are contributing to the spike in crime here. Some of these issues included economic insecurity, disconnections of social services and the shutdown of the criminal justice system. But New Orleans has struggled with the devastating effects of gun violence for decades. The volumes of victims go back just as long. Dr Scharf says reality demands crime reduction plans that can deliver results.

“My checklist for a candidate I’m going to vote for is someone who has evidence of a program that works elsewhere, and comparable situations. And if we don’t have that, I’m not sure what we’re offering, ”Dr Scharf said.

With the primaries scheduled for October, we will hear many proposals in the coming weeks.

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