Scoot: 10 shot on Bourbon Street ? what's the strategy?
by Scoot, email@example.com,posted Jul 1 2014 6:09AM
NOPD announced late Monday that a 10th shooting victim has come forward from the wild-west style shooting on Bourbon Street over the weekend. Five of the shooting victims remained hospitalized Monday – one in critical condition and the others in stable condition.
Whenever there is violence on iconic Bourbon Street – New Orleans and the nation take notice and the city has once again gotten national attention for the wrong reason. Tourism is the lifeblood of this city and violence on Bourbon Street is proof that not all publicity is good publicity.
Living a block off Canal St. and the French Quarter – Bourbon Street is part of my neighborhood and the spot where the shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday is an area I travel through quite often. It may not be fair that the French Quarter is a neighborhood that gets a disproportionate amount of police protection – but that is reality. With the upcoming 4th of July weekend highlighted by Essence Fest – the weekend shooting on Bourbon Street is causing some to feel less safe in New Orleans.
In a conversation with NOPD Chief Ronal Serpas Monday morning on WWL, the Chief acknowledged that the force needs more officers – but also said that there was police presence on Bourbon Street and an officer was very close to the shooting incident. Which leads to the obvious question – is the strategy of how New Orleans police respond to shootings on target?
The societal problems that have created the mentality of those on the streets of our city who are incapable of resolving conflict and are quick to use their “illegal” guns to settle an argument are so deep that it will take a generation to turn things around – and that's if all the problems were clearly defined and we implemented changes today. But in the meantime – what is the strategy and are NOPD officers trained and willing to respond in a way that begins to turn the tide against those who have no apparent fear of police.
If a police officer was close to the shooting - then why wasn't the gunman apprehended? Was protocol followed? And is the right protocol in place? When I asked Chief Serpas if an NOPD officer's first response is to care for a victim on the ground or to pursue a perpetrator – he said that it is a judgment call left up to the officer at the scene. Certainly police should attend to any victims who appear to be suffering from life-threatening injuries. But there are some questions about whether the officer at the scene of the shooting Sunday morning made the right call by staying near a victim and not pursuing the assailant.
Are NOPD officers trained and encouraged to pursue? Or is the instinct to actively pursue a perpetrator affected by poor moral in the department? Citizens and those who visit the French Quarter deserve answers.
Surveys consistently reveal low moral in the New Orleans Police Department and if moral is low would more police on the street make a real difference.
There are individuals and groups in the French Quarter, particularly on weekend night, that are not there to enjoy the activities most come to New Orleans to enjoy. Some are there looking for prey – others congregate with an apparent motive to stake out their territory and demand recognition of their presence.
Over the past 6 months – maybe longer – I have witnessed the crowd in the French Quarter change. I see very young males taking up positions on the street and often harass and intimidate passers-by – especially females. While any individual does not need a specific reason to legally “hang out” on Bourbon Street – it is becoming more and more obvious that there is a new element in the Quarter that is not sharing in the party atmosphere. NOPD needs to have a strategy to discourage this element and make pursing and apprehending perpetrators a priority over attending to most victims.
I do understand that police officers will always be in a position of making a judgment call when a shooting or any violent act occurs – and the question is whether to attend to the victim or pursue the perpetrator?
Verbal outrage from local leaders following a shooting where innocent bystanders are shot while enjoying the party atmosphere of arguably the most famous street in America may make citizens feel that finally, there will be changes. Yet we hear essentially the same things said after each violent act. It's not good enough to say that the city will not tolerate this kind of mentality on our streets. It's not good enough to tell people things will change - if there are not actual changes.
This call for a new strategy is not criticism of the entire police department - but like a football team – if there are not enough good players and the right strategy is not in place to beat the other team – you lose.
Even though the murder rate has reached a near record low in decades – the shooting of 10 innocent people in the French Quarter over the weekend does raise the question of strategy. If nothing else – would it not be better to have more police officers on the street late at night and into the early morning hours rather than have more officers on the street earlier in the evening? Police presence cannot be about the appearance of officers on the street to make people feel safe – police presence should be used at a time when the criminal element is more prone to strike.
Whatever strategy has been in place is obviously not effective and therefore, a change in strategy is needed. I don't know what the answer is – but someone knows the answer and doing nothing is not acceptable.