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The New Orleans Police Department investigates a shooting on N. Broad Street in New Orleans.

Eleven months into the pandemic and everyone’s personal behavior, work patterns and consumption choices have changed.

Governments have collected fewer taxes, budgets have shortfalls, and services are cut at the state and local levels since only the feds can deficit-spend.

It’s anyone’s guess when things will get back to normal and what that will look like.

And 2020 showed signs of significant behavioral changes by the bad guys. A sort of uptick in their business models.

The Times-Picayune and The Advocate reported that “almost 200 killings ... by the close of 2020 had made the year the third-most murderous in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.”

The Metropolitan Crime Commission’s "Five-Year Crime Trends by Police District 2016-2020," says, “New Orleans has experienced surges in murders, shootings, carjackings, and car burglaries during the pandemic ...”

MCC went on to say that while major crimes surged in 2020, the NOPD experienced a 20% decrease in spending compared to 2019. The cut in police spending was the direct result of eliminating police overtime beginning in the summer and a 10% furlough of police in October.

FBI data showed that homicides were up 60% in New Orleans in 2020 while the national average was up 21%.

The 2020 crime trends have continued into January 2021. Crime in the 7th District of NOPD (New Orleans East) cannot be contained or diminished by a City Council resolution chastising the media and MCC for accurately informing the public about longstanding crime problems.

Police overtime must be restored to address last year’s sizable spike in the most serious crime categories. The City Council has the power to champion this issue and the best they can come up with is a lame, do-nothing resolution.

In January, the 7th District had 7 out of 16 citywide homicides or 44%; 14 out of 41 shootings for 34%; 16 out of 27 carjackings for 59%; and 15 out of 45 citywide armed robberies for 33%. Think people in New Orleans East don’t know they have a crime problem or is it just the council? Some call it the “Wild Wild East.”

Instead of restoring police overtime, the New Orleans City Council recently passed a resolution asking the press to help keep the public uninformed, arguing that generalizing the area as “New Orleans East” is unfair to the residents who live there.

The MCC report breaks down five-year trends for each of the eight NOPD districts because that is how police file reports. The council can break down the 7th NOPD District, the largest district in land area, into as many neighborhoods as they can, the political way to obscure the crime problem.

Operating 56 offices around Louisiana as secretary of the Labor Department, I know a thing or two about opening new offices. It’s very expensive and, at times, duplicative.

The council along with Mayor LaToya Cantrell didn’t properly fund NOPD’s current budget, cutting it $16 million. Expect the current eight NOPD districts to not be properly staffed or equipped. There is no way the council can afford to fund more districts.

MCC shows through graphs and charts over five years (2016-2020) the major crime trends in New Orleans: 799 homicides; 1,518 shootings; 2,908 armed robberies; 721 carjackings; 21,770 vehicle burglaries; and 5,445 residence burglaries.

The 7th District (eastern New Orleans) and the 5th (9th Ward, Marigny, St. Claude and Bywater) consistently accounted for approximately half of all homicides and shootings each year.

New Orleans politicians need to learn how to attract businesses and jobs which will reduce and prevent crime for the citizens they represent. Name changes do neither.

During Dutch Morial’s eight years, Sidney Barthelemy’s eight years, Marc Morial’s eight years, or Ray Nagin’s eight years — that’s four consecutive Black mayors for 32 years — no one ever suggested that murders, shootings, robberies, carjackings, or break-ins were because of statues or monuments or street names. I know because I worked for two of those four mayors. They actually focused on fighting crime, not creating diversions.

You can’t begin to solve a problem until everyone admits you have one. Everything else is a diversion from the truth. Crime and the New Orleans economy are in serious need of attention and repairs.

There are seven members of the City Council. One was arrested for a DUI, another received a citation for threatening a constituent, another former member received a promotion while under indictment for 11 counts of federal tax avoidance. And the best they can do with a report showing where crime has occurred is blame the media and MCC for name-calling.

Pathetic.

Where are the business people and criminal justice professionals and why are they not running for mayor and the City Council?

Email Garey Forster at Garey.Forster@gmail.com.


Garey Forster is former chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee in the Louisiana House of Representatives and a former Louisiana Secretary of Labor. His column runs weekly. Email him at Garey.Forster@gmail.com.