Jan 112017

By Claire Byun

New Orleans Police Department’s First District has seen an uptick in simple robberies and violent crime, but officials discussed ways to combat those statistics at their regular debriefing Tuesday afternoon.

District Commander Hans Ganthier met with watch officials to discuss last week’s crime stats and go over in-house policies. Sgt. Kenny Temple, who’s in charge of property crimes, said the force has seen an increase in simple robberies this month.

“We’re going to be a little more proactive in identifying properties under construction, because that seems to be a target,” Temple said.

Temple said some of the simple robberies are perpetrated by employees – sometimes at construction sites – who later sell off the stolen equipment. Police plan to bump up surveillance on pawn websites – both online and in actual stores – to nab suspects and perpetual offenders.

Most of the simple robberies First District officers responded to last week involved construction or restoration sites, Temple said. The suspects forced entry into the area – sometimes a restored home – and mostly took power tools.

First District also saw a spike in violent crime over the last two weeks with two shootings and one potential homicide, Ganthier said. Officers responded to about 14 violent crimes last week – two more incidents than last year – but Ganthier said that number isn’t unacceptable given last week’s events.

“We had a rough week last week,” he said.

Police responding to reports of gunfire around 2:22 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, found the body of a man later identified as 40-year-old Joseph Smith in the front yard of a house in the 3800 block of D’Hemecourt (near South Cortez Street), according to a NOPD report. Smith had gunshot wounds to his body, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, the report states.
A man was shot in the head last Tuesday afternoon on Orleans Avenue, and the victim is still hospitalized. The shooting took place in the 2700 block of Orleans Avenue (between North Broad and North White), NOPD spokeswoman Ambria Washington said shortly before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.

Sgt. Gary Lewis said First District responded to five armed robberies over the week and cleared two. Officers also responded to a shooting on the 2600 block of Newman Ave. where the victim was sitting on his grandmother’s porch when several suspects started shooting at him, Lewis said.

Lewis said this suspect has been involved in a similar situation about three times, and officers have had issues “with this residence in the past.”

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