Mayor Landrieu and city officials call on feds to help stop violent crime

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U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said: We need more soldiers in this battle.
  • ALEX WOODWARD
  • U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite: "We need more soldiers in this battle."

Mayor Mitch Landrieu stood with city officials at City Hall this afternoon to make a “clarion call to every level of government to protect our streets.”

Landrieu’s press conference was the mayor’s first following the Bourbon Street shootings that left 10 people injured early Sunday morning. Landrieu asked Gov. Bobby Jindal for a permanent staffing of 100 Louisiana State Police officers within the city, and he also sent letters to the Obama Administration, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other federal agencies asking for the federal government to remind it of its "obligation to help stem this national epidemic.” (Landrieu later added that he is disappointed by nationwide leaders’ “general lack of knowledge” of violent crime playing out in the streets.)

The letter demanded a “surge team” of federal law enforcement as well as the restoration of the federal COPS program and harsher penalties for the illegal use of a firearm.

Specifically to the French Quarter, Landrieu called for park police to serve the Vieux Care Historic District, as it is a designated national historic site. Landrieu also said he has called for the rededication of state funding by sending 1 penny from the city’s hotel/motel tax to criminal justice agencies.

“Too often we have innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire,” Landrieu said. “The culture of this violence continues to threaten our country.”

New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Superintendent Ronal Serpas said investigators are “making headway and getting good tips from Crimestoppers” while detectives pursue leads. He added it’s not likely more crime camera footage will surface soon. Serpas said there were two shooters and two firearms. That night (during a "non-event weekend"), there were 27 NOPD officers serving the 8th District — nine were on Bourbon Street: four were mounted police, five were on foot. ("You cannot police or incarcerate your way" through crime, Landrieu added.)

For this weekend’s Essence Festival, NOPD has assigned 500 officers downtown, while each of NOPD’s eight districts will follow standard staffing protocol. “Those 500 additional officers are a combination of officers coming from other parts of the department and overtime to make sure we have that footprint covered,” Serpas said.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced the hiring of three assistant district attorneys to target and prosecute violent criminals in the area.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you ‘enough is enough’ simply because this event happened on Bourbon Street. … For those of us who have lived with the threat and persistent drumbeat of violence in our communities, or even worse, have lost loved ones to violence, for those individuals, ‘enough’ came a long time ago,” Polite said. “We need more soldiers in this battle.”

Polite also addressed the federal consent decree within the NOPD.

“There’s a lot of good in that document but it’s not perfect. ... I will not let problems fester,” he said, adding, to city officials, “You have my commitment this is a document that works for us.”

“Whether you recognize it or not … you are in the middle of a battle,” he said. “Either you are for a safe and peaceful New Orleans or you are against us.”

Polite denounced the culture of “no snitching,” calling it the “handiwork of the devil.”

“Come forward,” he said. “It is no longer acceptable to stand on the sidelines.”

Crimestoppers has upped the reward for recovered firearms to $1,000, and tips that lead to an arrest are $2,500 for each suspect.

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