NOLA Coalition addresses public safety

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 2:46 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - More than 500 members strong today, the NOLA Coalition formed back in June. Its goal was to become one voice in the effort to take action to combat violent crime and invest in the city’s youth.

“It kind of just formed from people wanted to be a part of a the discussion and born out of frustration frankly with what was happening in regards of public safety,” says member Richard Cortizas.

With a disturbing amount of violence across the city, Richard Cortizas, a NOLA Coalition member and the chair of GNO Inc., says they knew if the crime problem weren’t addressed, their economic goals would not be met, so they took action.

“We wanted support for the NOPD, pay increases, benefits, and retention. That was one platform. The second platform was how do we establish a long-range plan for support for our youth,” says Cortizas.

They’ve raised 4 million dollars for youth services, and it seems political leaders heard their message when it come to support for the NOPD.

“Not to poke anyone in the eye, but these are the concerns of the community. It appears that they started to hear them,” says Cortizas.

“I think we are going to begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s not going to be immediate,” says Rafael Goyeneche.

Goyeneche, with the Metropolitan Crime Commission, points to MCC crime stats showing a significant increase in violent crime over a three year period.

“I think that we finally have begun to recognize that we have a problem because this problem was created by the political leadership that failed to take action in 2020 and 2021. Here we are at the end of 2022, and they are finally taking action,” says Goyeneche.

But, he says we end the year with at least 277 homicides. That’s the most since 1996.

“This is bad news, and I think it’s pretty much a sure that New Orleans will be clearly in the top 3 to 5 homicide cities on a per capita basis in the United States, if not higher,” says Goyeneche.

“It really sad. You never want to be at the top of the list when it comes to murders. It’s not something we though would be, but we are choosing to look forward,” says Cortizas.

Cortizas says the Coalition plans to continue pushing forward with goals of making the city safer. They want a national search for the next permanent police superintendent, NOPD recruitment to remain a priority, and the criminal justice system working together.

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