About victims' names, that is: My apologies for wrongly insinuating that Capt. Edwin Hosli, commander of the NOPD 8th District or his staff were dropping victims' names from the crime reports he's been supplying to NOcrimeline. Because he stated publicly that he is opposed to using victims' names when we report on crimes, I made the assumption he was redacting them from the crime reports he gives us. In a cordial meeting last week to discuss NOcrimeline, Capt. Hosli said he was willing to release all the victims' information, including names, and was surprised it was not showing up on the reports. At first he attributed it to the detectives who write the reports getting lazy about including the information and said he would instruct them to include the names, addresses, ages, sex and race on the reports. Then he reported: "We found out that the officers were entering the victims names in their reports. For what ever the reason, the system is not printing the field. We have requested that the lieutenant that developed the program address the problem."
So, soon we should again have information about crime victims in the French Quarter and Marigny Triangle at our disposal and in our reports. Knowing the address, age, sex and race of a victim helps the community view the victim as a human being and not a statistic. We'll continue our policy of not naming the victims unless it's crucial and germane to our report, and the victim or the victim's family makes the name known to us.
Believe me when I say Capt. Hosli is dedicated to being open and transparent about the information he supplies to the neighborhood. Again, I apologize for assuming he was being anything less in his dealings with NOcrimline.
Robbery down, but still hold ups: Robberies in the 8th District have been down in the last couple of weeks, but there's still always some nut running around with a gun. Last Wednesday, 5.30.07, two men were looking at a vehicle at Dauphine and Touro streets at about 11:30 p.m. when a black man popped out from behind a truck, brandishing a Glock handgun. He demanded their money, but when they shouted they didn't have any, the perpetrator became nervous and fled on Touro toward Rampart Street. The would-be robber was described as 25-30 years old, wearing dark bluejeans, a white T-shirt, and black baseball cap. That narrows it down to, oh say, 1,000 or so potential perps.
Just a half-hour earlier, at about 11 p.m., a 28-year-old woman from Uptown was walking from Decatur Street to her car in the 500 block of Ursulines Street when she was accosted by a black couple walking toward her. The man tried grabbing her purse from her shoulder and a struggle ensued. The man punched the victim in the face and threw her to the ground. He dumped some of the contents of the purse on the victim while she was on the ground. The perpetrator and his accomplice got in the victim's vehicle, but he was unable to start the car because it was out of gear. The man fled on foot with the victim's purse and dropped it at Ursulines and Decatur after removing the victim's wallet containing 3 credit cards, her driver's license, and $100 in cash. The man escaped down Decatur while the female suspect fled on foot on Ursulines then down Chartres Street. The male suspect was described as being in his early 20s, 5'8" tall, weighing 150 pounds. The female suspect is in her late teens, 5'4", 140 pounds (kind of chunky, you might say).
A couple of tourists were robbed in broad daylight by unarmed assailants. At 10 a.m. on 5.25.07, a man was confronted by 3 black men while he was walking on Canal Street near North Peters Street. Two of the men stood in front of him to block his path while the other went behind him and took the wallet from the victim's pocket. The police report didn't say what the wallet contained nor gave a description of the perpetrators.
Another tourist was robbed of his $700 digital camera at 4:05 p.m. Saturday, 6.2.07, after leaving Jester's Bar at Iberville and Bourbon streets to walk back to his hotel. He managed to get as far as across the street under the Mango Mango sign on the corner when a black man came up behind him and grabbed the camera by its strap off the victim's shoulder. The perpetrator, in his early 20s, 5'6"-5'9", thin build, short hair, dark complexion, wearing a l ong baby blue T-shirt, baggy white wind pants, fled on foot down Bourbon toward Bienville Street. Though 3 businesses on corners near the crime have security cameras, none were aimed on the exact location where the tourist was robbed.
(Footnote: Capt. Hosli has instructed his detectives to comb the area of crime scenes for security cameras that might have captured images of the crime and to include that information in their reports. Sounds like a smart move to me.)
Do you know where your car is?: There doesn't seem to be any stopping the car thieves. In the past week, 19 vehicles were stolen; the week before it was 10. Most are stolen from the CBD (21 of the above total) and the other 8 from the French Quarter. Add to that 24 car break-ins in the past two weeks and it takes the fun out of car ownership. That's about 2 a day--I'd like to hear some ideas on how to thwart these thieves.
Bad guys go inside: Even though 8th District cops nabbed a suspect in the burglaries of businesses on Decatur Street recently, 7 businesses in the CBD and Marigny Triangle have been hit in the last couple of weeks, including La Peniche restaurant and Cafe Brasil bar.
Residential burglaries aren't very common in the neighborhood, but maybe this ought to be under the heading of "If you don't lock it, they will come": a woman left her apartment in the 1100 block of Chartres Street at about 5 p.m. on 5.23.07 and when she returned about 8 p.m. found the living room in disarray. Missing were $35 in cash, silverware, jewelry, and clothing. She told police she never locked her doors because her complex was gated and she felt secure. Yeah, right--you're not from here, are you?
16 charges and what do you get?: Well, you get your bond set at $780,000, which generally means you better get used to Sheriff Gusman's hotel. And that's after 10 other crimes you were charged with were refused by DA Eddie Jordan. The accused in this case is Gary Lindsey, the 38-year-old black man, charged with--among other things--the knife-point robbery of Bill Norris (who was identified as the victim by his son) in the driveway of his home in the 1000 block of St. Philip Street on 3.31.07 in broad daylight.
Lindsey is due for arraignment 6.12.07 on 3 charges of armed robbery, 2 charges of armed robbery with a firearm, one charge of attempted armed robbery, and 10 charges of purse snatching. The charges dropped included 4 charges of purse snatching, 2 charges of aggravated assault, and one each of aggravated 2nd degree battery, armed robbery, simple robbery, and flight from an officer.
Lindsey was apprehended after a neighbor, alerted by Norris' son, pursued the alleged perpetrator's car and called 911, to map the getaway car's location until NOPD officers could arrive on the scene. Still no word on whether CrimeStoppers saw fit to give a sizable reward to that citizen who helped apprehend a suspect police think was responsible for over 2 dozen crimes. If he doesn't deserve a reward, who does?
Hot stuff: I knew that several businesses made generous donations of motor scooters to the 8th District. What I didn't know is that each NOPD district is responsible for its own expenses, which means if the air conditioning goes out in your building and you have no money left in the budget, you sweat. That was exactly the case last week when one of 2 of the units that cool 8th District headquarters gave out. Capt. Hosli figures it might cost $3,000 to repair but there's not that much left in his budget. Perhaps there's someone out there in the neighborhood who's in the A/C business and could contribute their expertise. It takes more than bullets to fight crime.
As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.