Friday, January 23, 2009

nola.com Vieux Carre forum members lunanola and Camiznola got the ball rolling on the meeting at Buffa's Lounge today on Esplanade. When I arrived at the meeting, the attendees were asking City Councilmembers James Carter and Arnie Fielkow about the system Citizen Crime Watch founder Brian Denzer presented to them last Thursday known as NOLAStat and why it wasn't being adopted. Fielkow urged the people gathered there to strongly urge the new CTO, whoever it may be, to adopt Denzer's proposal...but, in the meantime, contact interim CTO Harrison Boyd about it. (That number, not given by Fielkow, is 658-7900)

There was some mention by Fielkow of the fact that no representatives of the NOPD were at Buffa's. He said the police needed a formal invitation from the organizers of the Buffa's meeting in order to send one of their officers to the meeting (which then prompted someone to ask at a later point in the meeting if that invitation needed to be engraved). The problem with that, someone else protested, is that whenever a representative of the NOPD came to meetings, the song remained the same: "We're doing what we can." "We're going to keep working on it." "Things will get better."

"Are the police doing foot patrols?" Carter asked. The whole room resounded with NOs.

"You never see police doing foot patrols," a woman said.

"How much longer will the military police be here, 'cause I feel safer with them here than with NOPD," a man at another table declared.

Fielkow said that what needed to come out of the Buffa's meeting was a "laundry list" of grievances, and then he could facilitate a meeting between some chosen representatives of the assembled group and Chief Warren Riley. His "throw down" came later.

BIG fact: in the vicinity of where Wendy Byrne was murdered, there were five armed robberies and one carjacking.

"We want the police to do their job."

Problem is, the police were not in attendance at the meeting. It is clear that there are serious issues with trust between the police and citizens - there were a few stories told of people blown off, intimidated, or arrested themselves when they were victims of crimes.

Who do the citizens call for complaints against the police? Internal Affairs is a start: 658-6800

Someone proposed helping everyone in attendance at the meeting get concealed carry licenses at $350-$400 a pop, since nothing freaks out the police more than an armed populace (nothing would freak me out more, either, actually).

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro urged everyone to keep trying to register complaints against the police when intimidation instances and other police misdeeds occurred, and if all were still fruitless in their efforts to hold the police accountable in reporting crime accurately and civilly, to contact the DA's office.

Bottom line: the right people to talk to were not at Buffa's today...but it is questionable whether or not they would have even listened today, much less taken the criticism and the tired anger of all in attendance and made some constructive changes in how things are done in fighting the city's massive crime problems.

It starts at the top of the NOPD.

And the top, according to Buffa's meeting attendee Jimmy Delery, used to run interference for former chief Eddie Compass, telling film crews who had probing queries about the NOPD, "We refuse to talk if you're going to ask those questions."

We keep asking the questions, Chief Riley.

Eventually, you will have to answer them - because it is our lives you are putting on the line.

4 comments:

Kevin Allman said...

Good wrapup. I was glad to see you and Bec there.

Funny you said "tired anger" - I had typed "exhausted and out of solutions" in my notes.

Brian D said...

Sometimes I'm so focused on what I'm working on that I miss events like the Buffa's event. I wish I had known about it.

I agree with the assessment of the NOPD's present inability to communicate a strategic action plan. If it had a plan, no one would ever know.

It's good to see that Carter, Fielkow, and Cannizzaro were there, and are supportive.

Both voted for a resolution in support of NolaStat at Thursday's City Council meeting. The resolution calls on the CTO to meet with citizen groups interested in the city implementing an open records reform to foster improved accountability.

We so have some significant allies whom we can call on to support us in greater transparency and reform.

Most importantly, we should hope that we can count on them to stick to their principles when the municipal elections come up again in 2010.

Leigh C. said...

Only way I knew about the meeting was from Lord David at Humid City. The blogpocheh get so turned off by the nola.com commenters on the online versions of the T-P articles that we forget the forums that are on there. I'm glad L.D. caught it and posted it.

Cannizzaro is making more of an effort to get his own people at the scenes of the violent crimes, but even he had to admit there was only so much he could do with regards to the actions of the police in reporting those crimes. Arnie said the only real position the Council had was as a bully pulpit, although, in extreme cases, the Council can dismiss the chief. A whole lot was put on the citizens today...

...but the citizens are freaking sick and tired of fighting the criminals on one side and a police force on the other side that is inclined to see the victims themselves as perpetrators.

lunanola said...

That's five armed robberies and one armed carjacking since December 18, 2008 in the immediate vicinity of Gov. Nicholls and Dauphine Streets (within the month immediately preceding Wendy's murder). To date, no arrests are known to have been made in connection with any of these incidents.

Additionally, reported armed robberies within the jurisdiction of the 8th District have recently and dramatically increased. August and September totaled six reports each, and September tallied seven; but November and December both racked up 15 reported armed robberies for each month (30 total in a two-month span, more than half again the number for the prior three months' time combined). I can't help but wonder if this sharp increase is also reflected in the stats for the other districts within the city.

The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 Noon on Saturday, 01/31/09, again at Buffa's (1001 Esplanade Avenue, at the corner of Burgundy and Esplanade). Shortly after today's meeting concluded, Camiznola received a phone call from Chief Riley involving an apology for his lack of attendance today due to (apparently) some confusion as to when the meeting would occur. He has, however, agreed to attend this next meeting on January 31st, but noted that his appearance will be brief.

Camiznola has requested that, in order to make the best use of the limited amount of time when Chief Riley is in attendance, we prepare a list of questions we'd like Riley to answer prior to this meeting. If you have a question you'd like addressed, please email it to her at Camiznola@gmail.com at your earliest opportunity.

Thank you, liprap, for your follow-up. I hope to see you again next Saturday.