Oct 042012

By Dana Kaplan

It doesn’t matter where I happen to be knocking on doors, Uptown, Downtown, Garden District, Warehouse District, Central City, Irish Channel, Broadmoor, or Mid City the refrain is the same at nearly every door and business. “We’ve got to do something about crime.”  It’s the one thing everyone in the city can agree upon. It’s the one thing I’ve been focused on every day for the past 6 years and it’s the one thing I’ll continue to work on as City Council person in District B.

We know that the high crime rate effects nearly every facet of life and every neighborhood, every child and business. Finally, through the work of many community organizations, and a mayor’s office that is focused on the problem, we are making progress – but there is a long way to go.

When I came to New Orleans, I helped organize and develop the Safe Streets/Strong Communities organization that was focused on criminal justice and police reform in the city. I wrote a report called “Crisis of Confidence: Persistent Problems with the New Orleans Police Department”. That report, along with the voices of many other community leaders, elected officials and the City Council led to the creation of the Office of the Independent Police Monitor. For the first time ever, the NOPD was going to be held accountable for their actions so public trust in their ability could be restored.

The growth of a grassroots movement like Safe Streets/Strong Communities led to the Office of the Independent Police Monitor through a City Council ordinance. This type of cooperation between public officials and private citizens is an example of what can make New Orleans safer – for everyone. It is the type of cooperation that I will work to expand upon as the new City Council member for District B.

I know that if we work together and listen to each other’s opinions we can make New Orleans safer. I know because I’ve done it over the past few years working as Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project. We made schools safer by making sure security guards got the training they needed to effectively do their jobs without brutalizing our kids. We created new youth organizations so kids find something to do – instead of trouble. As City Councilperson, I’ll continue the work I’ve been doing for the past 6 years to make our city safe.

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