Jul 182014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

We all know the NOPD is the primary law enforcement agency – but not the only law enforcement agency — in New Orleans. We also have the Harbor Police, the Levee Board Police, HANO Police, the OPSB Police, police forces around the college campuses, hospitals, and the private security details that neighborhood or business associations pay.

Why can’t these individuals receive the additional training necessary to increase their skill levels and become the “first responders” within their jurisdictions? With better training, they could be the primary eyes and ears in their geographic areas easing up some of the pressure on our woefully understaffed NOPD forces.

We are excited that the City working with the Police and Justice Foundation is moving into phase two of recruitment. P&J president Sandy Shilstone is a skilled marketer and fundraiser. She might get more folk to apply, but how do we “close” on more of those applicants? Increasing the salary is one sure way.

Residents and businesses in the French Quarter are being told that crime is not as bad as they may think. Councilmember Nadine Ramsey who represents the Quarter, Treme, Marigny, Bywater and Algiers has scheduled several public meetings in the coming weeks with the NOPD leadership. Hopefully Chief Serpas will attend and not just send his commanders and quality of life officers. Residents in every neighborhoods need first-hand communication, not just watching a press conference on TV.

WILL NEW ORLEANS FIREFIGHTERS CAMPAIGN FOR A TAX INCREASE?

Mayor Landrieu is putting New Orleans firefighters in a tough situation by asking them to campaign for a tax increase so that he might pay them some of the millions owed their pension fund. It is unfortunate that the firefighters’ pension fund lost so much money in the last year. Investments always fluctuate, as the City could well understand.

Chances are the fire department will be hard-pressed not to support the tax increase because of their ongoing financial needs, such as new equipment. It may not be tailored to their exact needs, so it will be up to them to negotiate an arrangement that works for them.

PROBLEMS AT ORLEANS PARISH JAIL CONTINUE

Sheriff Marlin Gusman has been having a fun week too. First, a long-time deputy sues Gusman over mold he says is making him sick, and asking for a class action as well. Second, a new video surfaces of inmates using drugs in the prison. Third, Mayor Landrieu can’t support the additional funds needed to move the mental health patients to St. Gabriel.

The Prison Reform Coalition is also opposing the construction of a new jail between the other two new buildings. They are dreaming about what other uses would be appropriate for that space. When will Sheriff Gusman get a break? Not anytime soon.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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  • Drew Ward

    All of these issues tie into the greater mess that was the impetus behind my proposing we place ALL uniformed services within the city under a single separate executive branch of local government headed by the Sheriff.

    The best thing we could ever do here regarding this topic is to alter the city’s charter to create a Public Safety Administration. It would be headed by the Sheriff (an elected position we are constitutionally required to maintain) and would be entirely separate from the Mayor. This administration would present its own budget and require it be approved by our legislative branch, the city council.

    If we were to place NOPD (and all those other mini-departments), OPSO, NOFD, NOEMS, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, OPP, Parking Enforcement, etc. under a single separate entity, we would eliminate the asinine system we currently have in which the Mayor (and Landrieu has made this a major play during his tenure) takes money constitutionally mandated for Public Safety / Law Enforcement and instead of paying police officers or buying equipment, spends it on midnight basketball, music albums, and landscaping.

    Anyone who has ever been in law enforcement or the military will tell you that such environments operate under different rules and require a different mentality than other public services. Regardless of which agency someone is in, they should all have a uniform pay system, a uniform retirement system, a uniform promotions and advancement system, etc. We should use a system of municipal occupational specialties based on the MOS system of the military which would allow us to transfer non-frontline personnel between departments as needed and to keep our firemen fighting fires, and our police officers policing our streets rather than having some play secretary or dispatcher.

    This sort of setup would remove most of the politics from this integral part of our local government. It would prevent the sort of budgetary abuses we deal with today. It would ensure a safe and cohesive workplace for our public safety and law enforcement personnel. And, it would put a single elected official’s head on the line for all things crime and safety and nothing else.

  • X5I

    Where is all of our money?? Rep. Walt Leger will speak to the community July 31, 2014 at 6:30pm, WW2 museum Cantina (parking is free in WW2 parking at Constance/Poeyfarre lot. He will tell us how he recovered $3.6 million/yr from the State for Harrahs.

  • Mike Flood

    Please explain how Tulane students will react when tuition cost go up because the Tulane Police must receive more training to help NOPD.

    • Drew Ward

      They already do help NOPD and they are actually better trained.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AhContraire AhContraire

    Instead asking other law enforcement agencies to patrol the French Quarter, why not ask WHY can’t Bourbon St, the Economic Engine of New Orleans, to pay for its own police patrols?

    The Garden District and Mid-City Security District can pay for their own extra patrols, why can’t Bourbon St?

  • Bethany308

    The university police used to patrol adjacent neighborhoods. They do not need any special training as many of them are former or retired NOPD anyway. When Sherpa took over, he refused to give these forces a commission to operate in the city (aka the adjoining neighborhoods). This effectively took 200 trained police officers off the streets in the city which obviously resulted in an increase in crime in these areas. The university police would happily resume these duties if they were permitted to do so.

    • Owen Courrèges

      Bethany,

      I’m not sure it would have been legal for the city to give campus police the same powers as the NOPD. State law specifically limits the jurisdiction of campus police officers to their campus and adjoining streets. I view this as a good thing myself because there not the same accountability for campus police officers because they don’t work for the city.

      In any case, I know the Tulane PD at least does patrols off-campus, but of course they don’t have arrest powers and have to call the NOPD in if they actually see something.