Newell: "Total miscalculation" for Cantrell to skip Lakeview crime summit

Newell Normand
January 22, 2020 - 4:48 pm

Just under a thousand people gathered in a school gym last night to express a lot of concern about crime in Lakeview, and civic leaders eager to set a strategy with the city to respond to the youth crime wave moderated a meeting that was emotional and at times contentious. Newell invited Freddy Yoder and Brian Anderson onto the program Wednesday morning to discuss outcomes; Yoder is the President of the Lakeview Crime Prevention District, and President of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association (LCIA). Anderson is a former President of LCIA. They were joined on-air by New Orleans City Councilman Jared Brossett.

"Brian, I'll start with you - you moderated the event last night and did an incredible job keeping things directed and on-task. What was the one thing last night that surprised you more than anything else?" Newell began.

"That we had so many people involved!" Anderson replied. "We ran the gamut - we had juvenile judges there, people from the council, 3rd District commander Ryan Lubrano was there, state police showed up, Helena Moreno, Jason Williams... I was very happy to see that the majority of the people that we invited were there."

"To Brian's credit, it was very well organized," Brossett agreed. "And it was well attended by constituents who are rightfully fed up by the amount of car break-ins they have experienced over the last year. Those people want factual information about what is being done, what's being funded... as a legislative body we can continue to invest in NOPD and increase their budget for recruits and for technology that assists in reducing crime.

"We were able to accomplish one of the primary goals we wanted to," Yoder said. "We knew going in that if we brought the right people to the table, and we were able to keep some peace and harmony with the crowd, we could make some headway. I went through the video this morning, and we have outlined about 40 things that we touched on and need to work on. This is the approach that LCIA has taken for many years - we bring the right people in, put them in the right seat, and ask the others to come to a solution or improvement on whatever the problem has been. We've used that same format for years. So now we have these problems, or at least most of them identified. I don't think anyone expected there to be a silver bullet that was going to solve all these problems, but we've been able to peel back the onion and find the different problem areas that got us here. I think if we can keep the ball rolling in the right direction and continue to have meetings and make progress by bringing the right people to the table, we will accomplish our goal of lowering crime all over New Orleans."

“There was some frustration that many expressed that the Mayor wasn’t there,” Newell said. “There were representations made that she or someone from her administration would be there to answer these tough policy initiative questions and talk about priorities. She deferred to the police department, but the police department doesn’t set the priority for all these issues - that’s the Mayor and the council. How frustrated were you that she wasn’t there last night?”

“It is very frustrating,” Anderson said. “We were told there would be someone from the Mayor’s office there who could speak on policy. And I was told two hours before the meeting that they’d be in the audience, but not on the panel. I read in the paper today that their official comment was that they were represented by NOPD, which tells me that either the Mayor believes that her role in fighting crime stops at appointing the NOPD, or it’s just not within her political values to be involved in this issue. I hope it’s not either of those things, but when you tell me that as the Mayor you only have a role in appointing an officer to a board… we had the DA’s office there, judges there, we had the state representatives there. Not one single person on the panel can fix this problem by themselves. And what I wanted from all of this, ironically, was not for the Mayor’s office to be a target at this meeting, but for them to be able to say, ‘we see what’s going on, we can be a conduit.’ There has to be accountability from the Mayor’s office, and if she thinks that her role in fighting crime ends at appointing a police chief, then we have a big problem.”

“I thought the Mayor did not handle this appropriately,” Newell said. “I would have taken a whole different approach, but that’s just me. These folks have put their money where their mouth is. They’ve been engaged. They’ve been solution-oriented. They have created an environment to have an open and honest discussion. They recognize that they chose to live here and this is the place called home. There are elected leaders around this country that would beg to have a constituency like this.”

Hear the entire interview in the audio player below.


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