Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Police: Mayor's Budget v. The Department's Needs

Yesterday I brought up The Mayor C. Ray Nagin's proposed 2008 budget. Included in said budget is a 15 percent increase in funding for public safety. All well and good, except a presumably significant chunk of the cash is going toward. Listen to The Mayor C. Ray Nagin:

...a pair of "Harry Lee-type tanks" and the "latest and greatest" machine guns. "We're going to have some 'shock and awe' stuff to take care of some of the criminal element out there," he said.

I got mad about it, suggesting that The Mayor C. Ray Nagin's crime-fighting priorities are out of whack. I pointed to the fact that over a million dollars supposed to go to after-school programs and the like is tied within the budget to the controversial millage rate piece that may not pass City Council. Will tanks and machine guns prevent more crime than after-school programs? What is really more useful to the residents of New Orleans? ... And so on.

To yesterday's discussion, I would now like to add a quote from today's Times-Picayune, from within an article profiling a surge in violent crime here in town over the last quarter. This comes from Police Superintendent The Warren Riley:

"We have a cultural and a people problem in New Orleans," he said. "Unfortunately, New Orleans has a culture of violence in some segments of our community, and it's going to be a longtime process to try to change that."

Ya know, I'm going to go ahead and agree with Police Superintendent The Warren Riley and my own added emphasis to the above quote. Making New Orleans a safe city will be a long-term endeavor that requires an approach that goes beyond the reach of a police department's responsibilities. More from the Times-Pic on Riley:

He characterized the local crime picture as deeply entrenched in poverty and poor education.

Does anyone know how many teachers the police department employs? How do tanks and machine guns help people rise from poverty?

It's not as though Riley is advocating for the disolution of the police department in favor of an approach that only attacks root causes, he knows the police department has a specific job to do:

As the city's population continues to build, the NOPD is trying to replenish its depleted ranks, but it remains understaffed, Riley said.

The NOPD staffing level has dropped to 1,352 officers, with an additional 60 recruits in training. Riley said he hopes to boost staffing to 1,600 next year.

"As we gain personnel . . . we'll be able to cover the city better," he said.

The police superintendent seems to indicate here that New Orleans needs more cops on the streets to combat the crime emergency. Yet for the long-term, Mr. Riley believes that measures outside the reach of a traditional police department are required.

Sounds logical to me. Can't think of any reason the city can't adopt a two-pronged approach.

The proposal calls for... what Nagin called a pair of "Harry Lee-type tanks" and the "latest and greatest" machine guns. "We're going to have some 'shock and awe' stuff to take care of some of the criminal element out there," he said.

Hey, I'm just pointin' out: WE DON'T NEED TO SPEND TAXPAYER MONEY ON MACHINE GUNS AND TANKS - TOYS FOR A CHILDISH MAYOR. COUNCIL: REARRANGE PUBLIC SAFETY SPENDING TO STRIKE DOWN THESE REQUESTS AND SPEND THE MONEY ON MORE POLICE, EDUCATION, CULTURAL PROGRAMS, OR SOMETHING ELSE CONSTRUCTIVE.

This ain't no joke. We're a city of souls.


2 comments:

Leigh C. said...

The NOPD are scary enough without all the damn Batcave goodies. Really.

The long, long road home,New Orleans said...

Well said. Yes we need more cops on the street to keep crime in check. But we also need money funneled to address the root problems of crime. Your absolutely right it is a two prong approach.

We are not at war and we do not need weapons as if we are fighting one.