By Claire Byun
Tuesday’s regular crime trends meeting among New Orleans Police Department’s First District featured an unexpected guest: Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
The district’s weekly meeting allows supervisors to review crime trends and pinpoint where officers are most needed. Most of the time, the meeting is led by First District Commander Hans Ganthier.
But, after the city’s most violent day of 2017 left several people dead, Landrieu took a seat at the front to ask questions on district procedures, communication and the impact of properly policing the community.
“We all know the relationships with the public are the most important,” Landrieu said. “You guys are the tip of the spear – you’re always the first point of attack.”
Landrieu, along with NOPD Chief Michael Harrison, addressed the rank and cofounders of the Tulane Banks Neighborhood Association about the ongoing violence on the Tulane corridor. Two officers have been posted in that area at all times since October, when three people were fatally shot and two others wounded. Ganthier said those patrols will be increased even more, even with the districts’ limited resources.
Harrison said police are pursuing several leads, but there’s no new information on who killed several people outside of the Mid-City Event Center early Saturday.
Harrison applauded First District’s response to the shootings – officers on scene heard the gunshots and responded immediately – while thanking the mayor for providing more resources to combat crime. New patrol rifles, more police vehicles and even a number of new recruits are headed to the First District soon, Harrison said.
“There’s so much more that we’re doing.” Harrison said. “We have to send a message that this is a bad area to commit crime in, because you’re going to get caught and prosecuted. ”
Residents and business owners gathered Monday night to discuss how to help police cut down on crime along the Tulane corridor. Several people criticized police for only responding to the symptoms of crime, rather than root causes. Landrieu, speaking Tuesday, said the district is doing the best it can with what it has, and is working to find ways to “branch out” into other solutions.
“You’re doing a great job under difficult circumstances,” he said. “If the community rallies and supports us, I think everything is going to be OK.”
Josh Capdeville, cofounder of TBNA, told Landrieu that the community meeting was meant to show support for First District officers and offer any help in solving the rash of homicides. The meeting opened a line of communication between police and residents, Capdeville said, and officials are hoping to review the city’s business permitting procedure to ensure all businesses are operating legally and within their permitted capacity.
Mallory LeBlanc, with TBNA, told the mayor it’s an issue that affects her personally.
“I have to live with it, but I know its going to get better,” she said.
Landrieu agreed. He sat down with LeBlanc and Capdeville after the meeting to discuss what the actual problem is, the area’s hotspots and possible solutions.
“Before we create a strategy we’ve got to know what problem we’re solving and what the root causes are,” he said.