Monday, January 08, 2007

Gettin' Ugly

There is an axiom in my line of work (project management) that one should "get ugly early." Briefly, this means to identify and get all of the contentious debate and decisions out of the way up front, so that we can all get along and execute the resulting plan.

In the war on crime, it's time to get ugly.

First, the idea of a curfew. The idea of restricing my ability to travel from my house in my safe neighborhood on Toulouse up to the Sav-A-Center on Carrollton is ridiculous. This will do nothing to mitigage crime in the crucial Triangle of Death and other areas of the city. What they need (in part) are more officers on the ground in the hot zones. There is a simple solution to this: withdraw police protection from other areas, including the state patrol and National Guard.

Make some areas no-go zones again, or very nearly so. Put checkpoints along clearly demarcated boundaries to those zones (say Lakeview, Gentilly and the East, as defined by the railroad corridor that follows I-610 and I-10 to the Industrial Canal, and along the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. Allow only residents or contractors residents sign for to have access. Add an exception for Dillard, UNO and Ben Frankling students.

Then pull the police, National Guard and state troopers out of those areas and put them where they are needed. Either the entire city can be the wild west, or we can declare the most flooded outlying areas to be the frontier try to restore law and order to the core city. Yes, we'd be withdrawing city services from areas, something City Hall has known it needed to do since the BNOB Commission but has been afraid to touch. We all knew this was coming, someday. And how much is your home in Lakeview or Gentilly going to be worth if the core city collapses under the weight of rampant crime?

(Hell, I lived for years in a town served only by a volunteer fire department. Perhaps its time to decide if we can afford full-time, professional fire protection in those areas as well, but that's an ugly discussion for another time. "Out of scope" as I'd say at work).

Next, bring back Camp Foti.We are spending hundreds of lots of FEMA dollars on some sort of modular prison buildings to hold a few hundred prisoners.What we need are on hurricane fence, concertina wire and tents so we can house as many prisoners as we need. Put some of the Guardsmen who were out on the perimeter to guarding people if the sheriff doesn't have enough

Then, lets fill up those tents. No one arrested for a persons crime or in possesion of a weapon should be bailed out. Period. End of discussion. They stay until trial. How do we get those tents filled? I'd suggest checkpoints in high-crime areas, set up an random. Check IDs, search vehicles, whatever. If you're wandering down Simon Bolivar in the middle of the night, you ought to be damned glad to see these, not complaining about it.

Finally, we need some of the zero-tolerance-meets-community-policing that turned New York around. Yes, that means the blue-and-white stopping at every street corner gathering of more than a couple of people. We're bound to pick up some more that way as well. Begin zero tolerance policing. Yes, Kim, that means they will pull you over for going 36 in a 35 or tossing a gum wrapper out the window, but only as an opportunity to check for warrants, etc.

At the same time, the NOPD need to treat people civilly at these checkpoints or stops until somebody bolts, or is discovered to have a warrant. If the NOPD can't figure out how to behave the way their momma's should have raised them, put some damn out-of-town trainers with them on these patrols until they do figure it out. If the police want people's help solving crimes they need to start treaing everyone like a damn citizen and human being instead of a suspect until they have reason to act therwise. Perhaps instead of having everybody tense up when they do a corner stop, people who tend to hang on the corner or a stoop in the evening will start to be the ears and eyes of the police, as it should be. Anybody on the NOPD who's too dim to learn to behave, or is only on the force for the 9mm penis extension on their belt should get the boot

At some point, the wild boys are all either going to be in Camp Foti, Angola or on their way out of town. Where out of town is exactly can't be our concern (Sorry, Houston). For now we need to secure New Orleans to make it a livable place. Then we'll need long-term solutions. Let's start by paying police a decent wage in exchange for efficient, effective professional behavior. Then we can try a prosector who's not a racist idiot, one who can actually manage to bring people to trial and get convictions. And then let's get rid of judges who don't recognize that accused criminals with rap sheets found in posssesion of weapons are a threat to the community. Man, that's a hard one. Do you think its on the bar exam?

Putting in a city-wide curfew makes no sense what so ever. It fact, it's a dodge to avoid having to make the hard decisions and then act on them that is what's really required. And ultimatley it is an indictment of the failure of the current chief and mayor. It's a confession that they have no ideas of their own what to do, and to float such a idiotic trial balloon in the weeks before Mardi Gras may qualify as the stupideset thing any official and at any level has said or done since the Federal Flood.

If I can come up with this program in twenty minutes during lunch hour, I think brighter minds than mind could some up with some good ideas for sweeping the streets of criminals without creating some sort of police state.

New York has done it. We can, too. But first we have to get rid of the crime enablers on Perdido Street, and cops who aren't much better than Anthony Burgess' droogies-turned-Bobbys. We need to figure out how to unite--black and white, section-by-section--against the Mayor and DA and Chief who have failed us or we're all royally f---ed.

Good stuff, Mark. You're gonna get called a fascist but not by me. I've dealt with the sort of people who killed Helen Hill and Dick Shavers...
Good ideas, and I don't think the residents of most those areas would call you fascist.

I don't think that police manpower is the main part of the equation, but I would like to see somebody demand some serious answers to some serious questions. For example, how have the civilian layoffs affected police presence? Since there's no serious effort underway (any fool can see that) to get back to a 1600 officer force, we need a smaller percentage performing desk duties, not a higher.
if you can give me a locked and loaded gentilly like i had from the week before rita up untill new years eve 2005. im in.

at least the milatary treated us with respect and kept the crime to zero while we camped out and fixed our houses here in the eight ward.

it's a damn shame when you actually wish for and long for the good old days of marshall law.

scream and holler thursday........

this peace and calm is what the whole parish deserves...not just during a federal emergancy.................

and it must come from us not from a goddamn lock down.....
Good stuff. Be sure to check out for all the scoop on crime and violence in the Big Easy.
Hell, I might have called myself a fascist back in the day, but zero-tolerance, community policing worked in New York. Why can't it work here?

The people I'm worried about are friends of mine who live on the Lakefront and Gentilly, who won't appreciate having their areas sacraficed in some way.

I'm not writing them off, just suggesting that largely closing those areas off for a while so that there's little opportunity for crime while resources are put elsewhere is a good short term solution.

Frankly, I don't know that anybody should be living east of the Industrial Canal, and I could see cutting off those areas for years until there is reliable levee protection.

I am responding largey to the entirely idiotic idea of a curfew, which will kill carnival and accomlish nothing.
There's a lot more of you guys, than there are of the bad guys...a LOT more! (You might as well lump the idiot politicians - IP's - in with that last lot.) Give 'em hell!
This post will be included in today's edition of the "Carnival of Hurricane Relief." See:
Wow, some wild-eyes suggestions, Mark! -- but at least you are offering suggestions, unlike Jeffrey at Lib. Chron., whom I am totally pissed at for his stance on the crime march.
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