(Aug. 28, the Nola.com papers) The Crescent City needs a dragnet.

It also needs to relearn the combined wisdom of two conservative New Orleanians.

And it really, really needs public officials who do their damn jobs.

The subject, of course, is crime. No need to overwhelm you with statistics when the situation is so bad that Mayor LaToya Cantrell muses aloud, utterly insensitive to the damage it does to the city’s tourism, that police strength is low enough to consider canceling Mardi Gras.

Way too much violent crime. Way too few police. An intentionally lenient district attorney, along with some overly lenient judges.

When a 13-year-old carjacks five people in two days, he may merit rehabilitation, but not without some form of detention. It certainly is good that Cantrell created, and takes a personal approach to, a program for juvenile offenders, but that doesn’t negate her responsibility to show concern for victims and to send an anti-crime message to the citizenry. At the very least, she should have publicly explained, from the start, what she was doing in court recently at the carjacker’s side.

This is especially true when the police force has suffered severe attrition during Cantrell’s five years in office.

Meanwhile, when a sheriff under federal oversight lets what amounts to a prison riot continue for two days without notifying either the public or the appropriate federal magistrate, that’s inexcusable.

And when a district attorney, already under fire for radical clemency in a city bidding to be the nation’s murder capital, has the gall to take a moonlighting job with a private law firm, well, that’s obscene.

It’s wonderful for private groups such as the newly formed NOLA Coalition to fight crime, but that doesn’t absolve public officials of their primary responsibility to treat public safety as the sine qua non of their offices. Until they get public safety right, nothing else matters.

All of which leads back to solutions — one an attitudinal course correction, the other a concrete action….

[The full column is at this link.]


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