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.