Council members want more detail on Landrieu anti-crime programs - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Council members want more detail on Landrieu anti-crime programs

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NEW ORLEANS - As the city decides on next year's budget plan, some council members question the effectiveness of several anti-crime programs. The Landrieu administration says murders are down, but council members say there's still a long way to go.

When it comes to the administration's war on crime, there's progress to report.

"This is the lowest number of murders in 40 years - since 1971," said Charles West, head of the mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Coordination.

With a budget of nearly $450,000 a year, Landrieu's anti-crime initiative known as CeaseFire appears to have netted results.

"CeaseFire Central City has gone over 200 days without a murder this year, which is the longest stretch in that area," West said.

But council members say its scope isn't wide enough.

"I don't want people to believe there hasn't been any murders in Central City, when there has been an increase in the neighborhood," said Councilwoman Latoya Cantrelle.

The CeaseFire program only covers a limited, 150-block section of Central City. It's comprised of 17 people with criminal backgrounds who intervene after a shooting to try to prevent retaliatory crimes.

Council members now reviewing the mayor's budget want more accountability as they determine whether to fund an expansion.

"The mere fact there's been a drop doesn't mean that what you're doing has created the drop," said Councilman James Gray.

The mayor's office is also requesting an additional $100,000 for a pre-trial service program that hasn't received universal approval. Some judges believe the current setup, using Vera pre-trial services, may be unconstitutional. Others have criticized the program's assessment process for at times giving low-risk assessments to certain defendants who went on to commit other crimes.

"There's so many cases, the fact that you've missed the mark on occasion doesn't mean you've done a bad job," Gray said.

Criminal Court judges are said to be devising their own system, but it remains to be seen if that program will have the backing of a mayor who says he's committed to a pre-trial service program that works.

Our partners at The Lens say that Vera pre-trial services is actually recommending higher bonds for defendants than it previously did. They say that may contribute to higher jail costs, since the number of inmates at Orleans Parish Prison has grown from 1,300 in April to 1,500 in September.

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