A Murder in New Orleans
The murder occurred in the Lower Quarter, a mostly residential section of the French Quarter that has been beset by a staggering number of armed robberies in the past couple of years.
I just recently moved from the Lower Quarter after living there for about one year and a half. I moved in part because I was very weary of constantly feeling like a target, no matter the time of day. [More...]
I hated to move because the Lower Quarter is a wonderful place to live--there are great bars, lots of beautiful architecture and it's far from the insanity of the more touristy parts of the Quarter.
Still, it's often unsettling in its quiet. Armed robbers take advantage of the lack of foot traffic by preying on the area nearly 'round the clock. Last year, I witnessed a brutal mugging--at 11AM, no less.
NOPD crime stats are notoriously unreliable but a local crime blogger estimates that in 2008 there were 179 robberies in the 8th District--which includes the French Quarter and the Business District--compared with 163 robberies in the previous year. The numbers are, to put it mildly, awful.
Now, one would think that an epidemic of armed robberies would be of great concern to local law enforcement. As Wendy's death demonstrates, an armed robbery can easily end in murder.
But here's the awful truth: under Superintendent Warren Riley, the NOPD does little to combat violent crime like armed robbery. According to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, from January 2007-June 2008, over half of all arrests were for traffic and municipal offenses. Worse, according to the MCC arrests for violent felonies "accounted for 10%" of state arrests during the January 07-June 08 period.
When local law enforcement defends this abysmal performance--if they bother to defend it at all--they claim that they're unable to make arrests related to violent crime because citizens do not cooperate. This defense represents nothing more than a distraction to the NOPD's tragic inability to do ANYTHING about violent crime.
Indeed, late last year my wife was robbed at gunpoint along with a friend of ours and his wife. Our friend happens to be a criminal defense attorney and he wrote about his experiences attempting to assist the NOPD in solving the crime here.
Here's what happened: a cell phone stolen during the robbery was left on by one of the robbery's victims so that they robbers could be caught if they were stupid enough to make calls on the phone. Someone was indeed dumb enough to use the phone but the NOPD's follow-up in the case has been profoundly weak.
I have had enough of DA's, US Attorneys, the NOPD brass, etc scolding New Orleanians for not cooperating with law enforcement. New Orleanians march against crime. New Orleanians fast against crime. New Orleanians have even begged fellow citizens who have been crime victims to come forward with incidents in which they have been ignored by the NOPD leadership so that this might somehow rouse them to do their jobs.
None of these efforts have worked. Every quarter--every year--we get the same awful performance by local law enforcement. Huge numbers of arrests for non violent drug offenses. Very few arrests for violent crime. Abysmal conviction rates in murder cases. And then finally and most infuriatingly, New Orleanians get blamed for this disaster.
But I will not play into this vicious, stupid cycle anymore and I encourage New Orleanians to do the same. I will not pretend that law enforcement is doing anything to stop the violence until they prove otherwise.
|< Inauguration: "We Are One" Concert | Bush Possessions Already Moved From White House >|