Give Cannizzaro what he needs: The new DA, Leon Cannizzaro, hit the ground running yesterday (11.17.08) in his first day on the job, promising his staff they're going to work harder and longer than ever before. And take drug tests.
It's really up to us as citizens. We all talk about how the No. 1 problem in the city is crime. It's time to put our money where our mouth is. How about a dedicated millage for, say, 2 years that will give Cannizzaro all the tools he says he needs to reduce crime in Orleans Parish? We can't keep saying we want to cut crime and not do what it takes. Right now, that's money.
Chief change coming?: With a new DA in place, the focus turns to Police Chief Warren Riley--the remaining weak link in the criminal justice system.
The NEW chief? Since Mayor Nagin puts little effort in picking police chiefs (Eddie Compass was a boyhood pal; Riley was next in line when Compass melted down during Katrina), the best guess is Assistant Chief Marlon Defillo, currently the No. 2 man in the department, will get Nagin's nod.
Best choice from INSIDE the department? Capt. Jeff Winn. A highly-decorated 23-year veteran of the NOPD and a hero of Katrina who supplied leadership when there was none. His drawback is he's young, but he's experienced (former SWAT team commander, former 1st District commander, currently commander of the criminal intelligence division) and no commanders on the NOPD merit more respect from the rank and file.
Best choice from OUTSIDE the department? Ronal Serpas. Serpas was plucked from the ranks and made the first chief of operations when the NOPD was drastically reorganized under Chief Richard Pennington in the mid-90s. When he took over as boss of the district commanders, crime dropped drastically in the city. A 27-year veteran of law enforcement with a doctorate from the University of New Orleans, he went on to become chief of the Washington State Police in 2001 and then Police Chief of Nashville, TN, in 2004, which has a police force similar in size to New Orleans' for a city/county much larger. In both jobs, he managed to reduce crime significantly.
When we mentioned several possible replacements for Riley above, more than one NOcrimeline reader asked "What about Louis Dabdoub?"
He was a gritty street cop who amazed those under him when he would jump in and make a collar when necessary. I once remember him being late to a Lower Quarter Crime Watch meeting--he had stopped to arrest a miscreant near Jackson Square he encountered on the way.
Because he always made time to listen to any citizen's complaint, Capt. Dabdoub was largely loved by the residents of the French Quarter, if not universally by gutter punks and unscrupulous merchants. It was during a sweep of businesses in the Quarter who lacked proper licensing that he ran afoul of the powers that be; it was said some of those busted had close ties to Mayor Nagin.
Dabdoub was banished unceremoniously from the 8th District to the 4th District (Algiers), an obvious demotion. Not long after he resigned from the NOPD and was last heard working for the Federal Protective Service, charged with protecting federal buildings and personnel, as part of Homeland Security.
A former commander in charge of the property room said it held $3 million at one time. We've heard from other sources that when police headquarters flooded after Katrina, $7 million was beneath the water.
You want to bet that more than a paltry $19,000 has disappeared in the last 3 years?