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.
The Mid-City Neighborhood Association kicked off 2017 with a comprehensive discussion of crime prevention, the recidivism rate and funding for several public programs.
MCNO will host a community forum every month on a plethora of issues. This month’s topic: public safety.
Mid-City residents are invited to learn more about how to prevent crime in their neighborhoods, what resources citizens can access to increase public safety and what strategies the New Orleans Police Department is using to combat criminal activity.
As his second year as NOPD First District Commander dawns, Hans Ganthier plans to focus on curbing the same issues his squad faced last year.
First District, which covers Mid-City and Treme, has worked to decrease armed robberies and response times over the year with its new commander. The number of armed robberies decreased by 52 incidents last year, Ganthier said, and auto burglaries and thefts are also down – even through a rash of incidents late last week.
“These armed robberies, when we put them away, it really stops our issues,” Ganthier said. “We do catch them, we’re really good about catching them.”
There were a total of 14 armed robberies around Mid-City in 2016, which is about 27 percent down from 2015, according to NOPD numbers. There were 14 simple robberies in both 2015 and 2016, but two fewer murders last year than 2015.
Residence burglaries were up by one last year but business burglaries decreased by 44 incidents, Ganthier said.
“That’s quite the difference,” he said.
Ganthier said his focus for 2017 is similar to last year: reduce response times; combat armed robbery stats; and inform and educate the community through engagement. Part of NOPD’s consent decree requires community engagement efforts from the department, and Ganthier said First District is planning events and programs for 2017.
Those programs will include youth development and engagement, Ganthier said, since many people around the district have been asking for something youth-oriented.
Ganthier replaced Otha Sandifer in the First District, who stepped up to Commander of the Compliance Division.
Ganthier has served within NOPD for 18 years, where he first started in the Eighth District and moved on to spend 11 years in the Special Operations Division. From there, he was moved to the Second District and later sent to the Fifth District as Assistant Commander.
Ganthier is also a graduate of Pratt Institute in New York and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in electrical engineering. He served in the Navy for five years after graduating.
Ganthier spoke to officers at the weekly First District crime meeting Tuesday afternoon where sergeants recapped the week’s activities and reminded officers about any protocol and paperwork duties. Officers discussed the city’s first homicide of the year – which occurred in Mid-City – to the dismay of Jim Olsen, chair of the Mid-City Security District.
Olsen said the First District’s misfortune in claiming the first 2017 homicide “is what it is.”
Ganthier, however, hopes for a little less luck throughout the year.
“As long as I don’t keep getting so lucky, we’ll be OK,” he said.
A man was shot in the head Tuesday afternoon on Orleans Avenue, New Orleans police said.
Warren Easton Charter High School officials are battling a scam that’s stolen several thousand dollars from area businesses.
Regina Wilkins, director of development at Warren Easton, warned the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization about several individuals and organizations that solicit businesses for T-shirt sponsorships, though none of the money raised goes toward the school. The scammers approach local businesses and ask for a donation – usually in the $1,000 to $2,000 range – toward a T-shirt that features the business’ name printed on the back.
The T-shirts are made and distributed to the businesses but those soliciting are not doing so on Warren-Easton’s behalf, Wilkins said.
“We don’t see any of that money,” Wilkins said.
School officials have been battling similar scams for years, most notably in 2014 when administration debated taking legal action against a group who misused the school’s name online to pocket alumni money. Several websites were selling false alumni memberships and gear, ex-officio board member Arthur Hardy said.
Warren Easton staff have made phone calls, written letters and issued cease-and-desist letters to the scammers, Wilkins said. So far, there’s been no more legal action.
Alexina Medley, Warren Easton’s principal, said legal action in the future may be possible.
“We also will be consulting attorneys to see what our next steps are as we continue to gather information,” she said.
Wilkins advised MCNO that any solicitations for donations or scholarships for Warren Easton are only valid if issued with the school’s letterhead or signed by principal Alexina Medley.
Emily Leitzinger, MCNO interim president, asked Wilkins if any other area high school has had similar problems, but Wilkins denied hearing about similar scams elsewhere.
If anyone has questions about a Warren Easton solicitation, please contact Amanda Winfield-Buford at 324-7426 or Wilkins at 324-7436.
Mid City crime decreased in November from the prior month, according to commissioners with the Mid-City Security District, creating a three-month streak of lower crime compared to the year before.
Both rape and simple robbery crimes decreased, monthly police reports presented to the MCSD board showed. There was one reported rape in November 2015 and none last month. There were seven reported robberies in November 2015 and only one last month, according to the numbers from the New Orleans Police Department.
The biggest difference from last year stems from a Nov. 30 murder of a 40-year-old man, who was killed on the corner of Canal and North Galvez streets, according to the report. That shooting – which was the 164th murder of the year in New Orleans – shifted Mid-City’s murder rate to 3 so far this year, compared with 5 in 2015.
Despite a distant fourth-place finish for Presidential candidate Jill Stein in both Louisiana and nationwide, members of the Green Party of New Orleans now plan to increase their focus on local issues and candidates as they seek to build their presence locally — starting with rallying around an unconventional mayoral candidate in Gretna.
A 30-year-old man was found shot to death on South Jefferson Davis Parkway late Monday night after gunfire broke out at his Palmyra Street home, New Orleans police said.