NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro did not mince words as he spoke to a victim's advocate group in Lakeview about his budget cuts.
Irvin Magri, the President of the Crime Fighters group, told residents Cannizzaro faces serious set backs because of the budget cuts and thinks that may force the DA's office to offer plea deals for lesser charges against violent criminals.
"Not because you want to, but because he's put into that position by the New Orleans City Council, the council controls the purse strings," Magri said.
Cannizzaro told the group he's worked to increase the acceptance rate of cases in Orleans Parish from 50 percent to 90 percent since he took office in 2008, but he thinks his large acceptance rate is one reason the city is slashing his budget, despite a rising trend in violent crime.
"[We've had] 91 shootings, you put that together with 30 murders and that's 120 people that could be dead if the aim of the bad guys was better," Cannizzaro said. "Think about it, if theses guys could shoot their guns straight, instead of going out there and doing this, that, and all that other stuff, there could be a whole lot more carnage."
Cannizzaro said he's facing a $600,000 budget cut, which could force him to fire as many as 10-15 employees.
He thinks the city is punishing him because of his high case acceptance rate and his willingness to charge teens as adults.
"Does it really matter if the guy that puts a gun on you and says give it up, is 15, 16, or 116. Does it really matter if he gets nervous and pulls the trigger, you are just as dead," Cannizzaro said.
During an interview in January after the budget cuts, Deputy Mayor Ryan Berni dismissed the DA's concerns.
"Look, this is clearly a little bit of a temper tantrum because the DA had his budget cut like so many agencies do over time in budget decisions. I mean it's not about the crime plan, the crime plan is to put cameras and license plate readers in crime hot spots across the city. That's going to make his job easier and make the city safer," Berni said.