Dec 012016
 
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Criminals are stalking the streets of America and killing innocent victims at unprecedented rates. “Police have to gain control of this tremendous crime wave that’s hitting the U.S.,” said President-Elect Donald Trump on “Meet The Press” recently. “Cities need strong police protection.”

There is no question that crime is out of control in New Orleans too. Yesterday’s four shootings with a two-hour period, including one fatality, brought the 2016 number of homicides to 164, equal to last year. Who knows how many homicides will take place in December?

While Saturday’s shooting on Bourbon Street after the Bayou Classic certainly caught the attention of the media and the tourism industry, it should not have been too much of a surprise. There is a strong culture of gun-related violence in America. More and more young people are carrying weapons and it’s not because they are on the way to the duck blind.

Solving disputes with guns is the new normal. Adding alcohol and excessive crowds is like lighting a match to the kindling. Even having twice as many officers in the French Quarter probably would not have stopped what happened.

A system of barricades is a nice use but is never going to work because there are too many ways to Bourbon from other streets. Regardless of what kind of gun laws are enacted, “bad guys” will always carry illegal weapons.

Though Trump has yet put together a substantive anti-crime strategy, his overall philosophy is already evident from many remarks made before and during the campaign. Trump will set the tone for law enforcement nationally in his funding priorities and selection of judges and U.S. Attorneys. Yet day-to-day implementation falls to state and parish laws and the officials who implement them.

“We need law and order,” said Trump on September 26, 2016. “If we don’t have it, we’re not going to have a country.” Trump considers stop and frisk “useful” and has had a “tremendous impact – beyond belief.”

Trump is a big supporter of America’s police officers. He believes that they are “absolutely mistreated and misunderstood” and have done an “unbelievable job” of keeping law and order. “Weed out” the “bad cops” is the way Trump addresses needless killings by police.

“I don’t care if a victim is a CEO or a floor sweeper, a life is a life and if you criminally take an innocent life, you’d better be prepared to forfeit your own,” Trump wrote in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve.”

Trump also wants to hold judges accountable and not reduce sentences. “Criminals are often returned to society because of forgiving judges. This has to stop.”

Trump’s previous statements might also lead one to believe that he favors mass incarceration. “The next time you hear someone say there are too many people in jail, ask them how many they’re willing to relocate to their neighborhood.”

Trump also believes the death penalty deters crime and that violent television programs leads kids astray. Trump also thinks capital punishment isn’t uncivilized but “murderers living is.”

Perhaps Trump’s overall philosophy can be best summarized in another passage from the same book. “We can have safe streets. But unless we stand up for tough anti-crime policies, they will be replaced by policies that emphasize criminals’ rights over those of ordinary citizens. The only victim of a violent crime is the person getting shot, stabbed or raped. The perpetrator is never the victim. He’s nothing more than a predator,” Trump wrote.

It will be President Trump’s goal to appoint the best and the brightest prosecutors and law enforcement officials in the country. Perhaps this will help.

Homicides in America’s 50 biggest cities shot up 17% from 2014 to 2015 including 54.3 percent in Washington, D.C., 63 percent in Baltimore and 49 percent in Chicago — a sharp contrast to the previous general decline in homicides. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, there was an average of 20,000 murders each year even though the population was smaller. In 2014, there were less than 15,000 murders nationally with 80 million more citizens.

Many Americans who live in rural or suburban areas believe that life is safer now than in past decades. That belief is not held by African-Americans and Latinos who live in poor urban neighborhoods.

While violent crime has been in a steady, long term decline since 1991, there is a complex mix of factors driving crime starting with a proliferation of guns and including endless years of poverty, joblessness, segregation, blighted housing, inequity, and neglect in inner-city neighborhoods. Until these core problems are addressed, we should expect that the quantity of violent crime that some Americans including New Orleanians must deal with every day will remain unacceptable.

JUDGE PAULA BROWN ANNOUNCES FOR APPEALS COURT

Former Tulane basketball star and civil district court judge Paula Brown announced her candidacy for the Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeal this week. The election will be held March 25, 2017.

Brown has served on the bench seven years and touts her 24 years of legal experience including stints at the RTA and the Louisiana Supreme Court. A breast cancer survivor, Brown is a passionate advocate of breast cancer awareness and had been recognized by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for her work in that area.

JUDGE PAUL BONIN, SENATOR WESLEY BISHOP HOLD FUNDRAISERS

With Jess than 10 days to go before the Dec. 10 runoff, Judge Paul Bonin has one last fundraiser set for tonight at the New Orleans Athletic Club. Bonin is in a runoff with assistant district attorney Kevin Guillory for the Criminal Court seat vacated by Frank Marullo. Well funded and having received almost every endorsement, Bonin is expected to win.

State Sen. Wesley Bishop who has done an excellent job in serving his New Orleans East constituency, will greet donors at a fundraiser Tuesday, Dec. 6, at Walk-On’s Rampart Room.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are Foster Campbell, Regina Bartholomew, 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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