Candidates for N.O. mayor need well-thought out anti crime message experts say

Focus on crime in mayor's race

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city's mayoral candidates have put forth a lot of ideas, but a local criminologist and a political analyst said the message they must articulate best is on how to end the city's violent crime problem.

"If somebody isn't really about analysis and solutions and crime it's over for them," said Dr. Peter Scharf, Ed.D, of LSU Health New Orleans.

"Typically, you'll find candidates deciding whether to be the law and order type, more guns, more police, more enforcement or whether trying to take a softer approach on offering social services to people at-risk. Clearly, you can have a hybrid message but nuance is something voters don't deal well with on the campaign trail," said FOX 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman.

Criminologist Scharf said well thought out plans and execution are required to successfully tame the crime crisis.

"What really is the problem? And the glibbest answer is it's all about manpower. That's a piece of it, but it's not all of it. We need a mayor who can think through the most cliché'-ridden approaches and get down to substance," Dr. Scharf stated.

The NOPD said that through July 18 there were 101 murders compared to 79 in the same time frame last year. That represents a 28-percent increase, according to NOPD.

For all of 2016, there were 174 murders.

The new mayor may not find a very patient electorate.

"We've heard this line being used by our current mayor that this problem wasn't created overnight and it's not going to be solved overnight, but voters want an answer overnight. So a long term structural change to end the culture of violence is not the message voters are looking for in this campaign cycle," said Sherman.

"The fantasy of a quick is a fantasy of a quick fix and somebody's gotta really analyze a solution," Dr. Scharf stated.

Scharf said candidates must think deeply about anti-crime strategies.

"Because there are a lot of Catch-22 realities and crime solutions that aren't obvious, you know, one is feasibility. Let's hire 400 more cops, you know, where is the money? Another, what are you going to do that Mitch didn't do on the crime-fighting front?" said Dr. Scharf.

Back in the 1990s when Marc Morial was mayor of New Orleans, he tapped a complete outsider to be NOPD Superintendent, that was Richard Pennington. Now, some of the mayoral candidates are talking about conducting a national search for the new police superintendent.

"They always allow the opportunity for someone within the department to rise through the ranks, but what we are seeing time and time again is candidates embracing this large search to bring someone new into the picture," said Sherman.

"It's great we're going to get a new police chief, yay. Problem is, who's going to come and then are they going to get eaten up by the inertia and friction that ate up Parsons and in ways Supt. Serpas. So a lot of glibbest solutions we've heard them," Scharf stated.

Dr. Scharf also said in terms of fighting crime the mayor needs to have performance measures like former Supt. Pennington had while at the helm of the NOPD.

He also said crime fighting reforms should be based on evidence of what has worked in other cities to reduce murders.

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