NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city's former police chief has formed a national crime-fighting group and has weighed in on policies espoused by everyone from the new president to outgoing city leaders.
Locally, he says bad policy is to blame for recent increases in shootings and robberies. Former New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas has been reading the headlines and worries.
"The message is that we're not serious about crime fighting," said Serpas.
Serpas, now a Loyola professor, heads a group called Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. He took to social media the day after two 12-year-olds were arrested for the attempted armed robbery of a couple in the Garden District. Serpas tweeted, "Horrific brazen behavior learned by watching others. NOPD staff slashed, DA budget slashed, gun crime and violence skyrocketing, NOLA suffers."
"When you look at a 40 percent increase in robbery and a 40 percent increase in assaults over the last five years, those aren't alternative facts," said Serpas.
Speaking to FOX 8 from a meeting in South Dakota, Serpas said the city's failure to significantly boost police manpower has helped fuel disturbing trends.
"The problem with [a lack of] manpower is you can't be proactive to deal with non-marijuana arrests that's driving the crime," said Serpas.
And he says cuts to the DA's office make a bad situation worse.
"I think he's been politically hammered without any facts," said Serpas.
"People are saying you shouldn't prosecute so many cases - that's crazy. If police make an arrest, that case should be reviewed and prosecuted," said FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.
The former chief said change is up to the voters. He said if they are truly concerned about rising crime, they need to be challenging candidates in upcoming elections for mayor and council.
"This crime thing keeps pulling us back. Candidates need to be asking where's the beef," Serpas said.
"To cut crime you need more cops. They should be funded to 3 [hundred] to 400 policemen, have more recruit classes so they have more cases to prosecute. That's how you stop crime," said Raspanti.
Crime-weary residents hope for change, and they want a turnaround soon.
"It's made me scared to death, I'm scared to go in my garden," said one resident near the scene of the recent robbery attempt involving 12-year-olds.
NOPD spokeswoman Dawne Massey had this response to Serpas's tweets: "It is not accurate to say that the department's staff has been 'slashed.' We are in the process of rebuilding, and that takes time. We are continuing to work towards our recruitment goals, and in the process continuing to build a force to make New Orleans proud and keep New Orleans safe."
Serpas also weighed in on President Trump's new crime-fighting plan. He just co-authored a paper that criticizes Trump's strategy, which he says doesn't go far enough in targeting violent crime.