Crime in New Orleans continues to be a frightening reality, and city and state criminal justice officials all say they're focused on fighting it.
It might help if they could bring themselves to stop fighting each other.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has doubled down on his bid to fight violent crime in…
A massive expansion of the New Orleans Police Department's surveillance capabilities, in bot…
Long-simmering, multi-dimensional tensions over a host of issues erupted in public this week, with major players coalescing into two loose groups. In one corner: Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Gov. John Bel Edwards, and members of the New Orleans City Council. In the other: Attorney General Jeff Landry, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and Sheriff Marlin Gusman.
Monday, Landrieu, Edwards and the council announced a $40 million initiative, funded in part with money that the governor apparently helped shake loose from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center's reserve fund. The aim is to secure the Bourbon Street tourist zone, in light of several deadly shootings and amid fear that the area could be targeted by terrorists, and to expand electronic surveillance in the French Quarter and in hot spots citywide.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro excoriated city leaders Tuesday for slashin…
The same day, Landry started promoting news that his office plans to expand its own crime-fighting task force in the city, despite the Landrieu administration's contention that the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation does not have jurisdiction and that having what amounts to a rogue police presence on the streets is dangerous. While Landrieu has been highly critical of Landry, a possible challenger to Edwards when he runs for reelection in 2019, Cannizzaro and Gusman endorsed his actions.
Tuesday, Cannizzaro unloaded on the administration and council members in a scathing speech before the Metropolitan Crime Commission, blasting a sizeable budget cut by the City Council to his office and claiming that his adversaries are taking "frighteningly dangerous steps" to score political points and have "turned their guns" on his office to punish it for being aggressive.
Both also took the opportunity to scoff at the mayor and governor's initiative.
The showdown between city government and the D.A.'s office is indeed a policy dispute, at least in part. City and criminal justice officials have been involved in a number of long-swirling debates, over prosecution strategies, jail size, federal oversight via a pair of civil rights consent decrees, and where and how to invest scarce resources.
But you don't get the kind of high drama we've seen without the added dimensions of personality disputes and political jockeying.
Here's an idea: Perhaps this group could borrow a page from Landrieu's NOLA for Life strategy, which touts the use of people known as "interrupters" to resolve conflicts before they escalate.
Or maybe, given the way everyone's behaving these days, it's too late.