This report's longer in coming than most because I've been scratching my head trying to figure out what's going on with the NOPD. While I've been asking "where's the crime?", the Times-Picayune managed to wheedle figures out of the NOPD that showed crime was actually higher last year, rather than lower as I thought.
Many crimes are not even making the NOPD's online Crime Map that Serpas bragged would keep citizens informed of crimes in the city. Remember the murder and robbery of the Slidell optometrist in the French Quarter last fall? That crime never has appeared on the Crime Map. Remember the 2 fights (one this winter and one last fall) at Jax Brewery that left a couple of guys beat senseless? Both of those were first listed as "simple battery" until the public reported details, and then--and only then--did the NOPD upgrade the crimes and make reports available.
Cover-ups: Other recent crimes the NOPD refuses to talk about:
- Minimized crime: Krewe du Vieux parade, 1900 block of Burgundy Street in the Marigny Triangle, 2.4.12--A fight broke out in a melee involving at least 4 guys that the police categorized as "disturbing the peace." They ignored the fact that 2 guys were knifed and had to be hospitalized.
- Sloppy police work: Last Call Bar, 806 Conti St., 3.12.12--Neighbors report a loud ruckus among several women in front of the bar around 8 a.m. Before cops arrive, up to 7 witnesses view one woman brandishing a gun. The cops write it off as a drug violation, never asking the witnesses about the reported weapon. The 8th District refuses to issue a report; citizens wonder why this gun wasn't taken off the street.
- Down-graded assault: Verti Marte, 1201 Royal St., 3.17.12--A gutter punk, impatient for his food around 3 a.m., smashes a young girl in the face when she tries to calm him down. "Split her face open, broke bones and her nose, knocked her out cold," is the way our informant described it. Cops describe it as a "simple battery" (remember the Jax Brewery brouhahas?) and refuse to issue a report on the crime.
- Report refused: Royal and Dumaine streets, 3.18.12--Two guys get beaten up badly, it's all over TV, but the NOPD refuses to issue a report.
Not public information: Chief Serpas was caught with his hand in the cookie jar again when he assigned a take-home city car for Remi Braden (left) to use when he hired her at $91,000 to work directly under him as commander of the NOPD's Public Affairs Division or Public Information Office (or whatever they're calling it at any given time).
After noting earlier the difficulties in getting Braden's office to divulge public information, it seemed odd to look back at the NOPD news release noting her hiring in March of last year. It said Braden's duties would include "...helping to ensure the NOPD’s commitments to transparency, accountability, collaboration and integrity in the service to the people of New Orleans." Perhaps she hasn't been on the job long enough to look up what those big words mean. To the people of New Orleans, they mean nothing, coming from the NOPD.
Another Crown Vic cover-up: No more had Braden's woes been exposed than another NOPD cop ran afoul of the law (maybe), though the NOPD again characteristically won't reveal any details.
Different online: Apparently Serpas doesn't consider running down citizens with a cop car as serious as an officer expressing his opinions online. When 8th District Det. Jason Giroir (right) posted some dumb thoughts about that shooting in Florida, Serpas immediately suspended him without pay--never mind his First Amendment rights--then fired him the next day.
What now, Serpas?: In January there was nearly a murder a day. Then there was the hubbub over Serpas releasing the criminal records of murder victims (which essentially showed that, in most cases, those who "act like a thug, die like a thug.") Then his plan to plaster a bright orange sticker on houses searched for drugs--which could be easily and legally removed immediately--ended before it started, sticking CrimeStoppers with 5,000 of the useless signs.
If you want the NOPD to end the cover-ups and supply more information to the public, make your voice heard:
- Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas: Rwserpas@nola.gov or Nopdchief@nola.gov
- 8th District commander Jeffrey Walls: Jhwalls@nola.gov
- Public Information Officer Remi Braden: firstname.lastname@example.org