Crimefighting tactic leads to surprising city meeting - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Crimefighting tactic leads to surprising city meeting

Updated:
NOPD officers leaving Criminal District Court after meeting NOPD officers leaving Criminal District Court after meeting

New Orleans, La. - Dozens of people, most of them young men in their teens and twenties, were invited to Criminal District Court Thursday afternoon.  Once inside, they faced all of the city's top crimefighters, both local and federal.

"Today was part of the 'Group Crime Reduction Strategy' where we called young men in, who we know have been involved in creating violence on the streets, to send a really clear message to them that the rules are different now," says Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Most of the young men called in were on parole.  They're suspected of being involved in loosely-organized neighborhood groups responsible for some of the city's most violent crimes.

They stood before Mayor Landrieu, D.A. Leon Cannizzaro, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Police Chief Ronal Serpas and every NOPD district commander.

"The violence has got to stop. It's non-negotiable. This is not a conversation that we are going to have. I'm telling you as mayor of this city that I've got my friends with me today," says Mayor Landrieu.

Also in the courtroom were people representing social service agencies and members of the community who offered the young men help to change their lives.

"This was a real opportunity for them to make a turn, to make a change, to make their lives better and to live different," says Sheriff Gusman

The crimefighting initiative is part of the mayor's NOLA for Life plan, a comprehensive homicide reduction strategy.  This strategy was designed by Professor David Kennedy, a criminologist considered to be a national expert in crime prevention in such places as Boston, New York and Chicago.

"Homicide and shooting is driven by groups, gangs and drug sets. They can be identified. They can be singled out. It's actually not that difficult and because they drive so much of the violence, you get their attention. You have this huge and often really rapid impact on the violence," says Kennedy.

Kennedy says it's about being direct with the people who cause the most problems.  "This is just a way of saying to them, we will help you if you let us or we will stop you if you make us and after today it's up to you," says Professor Kennedy.

After the meeting, the young men were allowed to leave.  Mayor Landrieu says what happens next is up to them.

About 50 young men were called in for the meeting. 15 of them were already in jail.

Mayor Landrieu says this strategy will continue with more meetings in the future.

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