Attorney general says N.O. crime fight is hindered by consent decree

Updated: Jan. 5, 2017 at 5:15 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - He is one of the top law enforcers in Louisiana and says he wants to do more to fight rising crime in New Orleans. But that offer has the NOPD saying the attorney general is more concerned with politics than teamwork.

Last year, shootings and murders were on the rise for for a second consecutive year.

"There's no political agenda," said Attorney General Jeff Landry. "It's about keeping people safe."

Landry reached out through social media with the hashtag "makeneworleanssafeagain." He said roughly one-third of his constituents live in the New Orleans area, and he was called on to get more involved by unnamed stakeholders.

"I would tell you these are men who have investments in real estate in the city of New Orleans," Landry said.

The AG said he thinks New Orleans officers are hamstrung by a consent decree that has set the tone for what he calls a '"hug-a-thug" mentality in the city.

"When we talk to officers, who would be fired if they spoke to you, they don't believe they can do pro-active law enforcement," Landry said.

The head of the Police Association of New Orleans agrees that the consent decree is at least partly to blame for a rise in crime in a department that remains roughly 350 officers short of the state goal of 1,600.

"Because of the oversight, officers are reluctant to initiate contact," said PANO President Michael Glasser. "...The consent decree requires a lot of oversight and redundancy, and while that probably creates a better work product, it's labor intensive and time consuming, and we lack labor. What used to take an hour or two now takes two or three or four."

The AG said he has had between five and 16 agents involved in tackling violent crime and could provide more help, if needed. His office announced that an AG violent crime task force made 16 arrests Thursday morning.

The AG's comments sparked the following response from NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble:

"Making New Orleans safer is about teamwork, not some self-serving political agenda. That's why we've built strong relationships with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to improve public safety and grow our resources. Together, that work has led to a sustained decrease in gang and group-related murders over the past four years as well as a double-digit decrease in armed robberies citywide in 2016. There are times we call on other sheriff departments and law enforcement agencies to support in traffic and manpower operations, but that is done at the request, coordination and direction of NOPD.  The Attorney General has no legal authority to commission law enforcement officers to patrol in the city of New Orleans unchecked and unsupervised. The NOPD is a national leader in police reform and we will not allow anyone to attempt to police in New Orleans without the proper training and supervision from the NOPD. If the Attorney General is interested in serious partnership like others, we welcome him.  However, we will not standby and allow the NOPD nor the City of New Orleans to be a prop in political agendas."

"What political gain do I have?" Landry asked. "I've been in law enforcement my entire life, the mayor - he's never had to handcuff anybody."

The AG said he has good working relationships with the New Orleans sheriff, the district attorney and the police chief, but he said he and Mayor Mitch Landrieu don't talk.

"My goal is to have the mayor openly embrace anyone who wants to help and listen, and then execute," said Landry.

So far, there has been no comment from the mayor's office.

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