Who bears most responsiblity for reducing crime in New Orleans? Survey shows clear answer

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the Police Department bear primary responsibility for reducing crime in New Orleans, according to The Times-Picayune Power Poll, although the survey respondents split on the most important change that the mayor and police can make to succeed.

More than three quarters of respondents in this week’s survey put the burden on Cantrell and the police, followed, in order, by District Attorney Jason Williams, judges and courts and, finally, the City Council. Here are the weighted results:

Rank who bears responsibility for reducing crime in New Orleans

  • Mayor and Police Department – 3.6
  • DA – 2.7
  • Judges and courts – 2.0
  • City Council – 1.6.

Mayoral solutions are another story, with none of the six options garnering as much as one third of the vote:

What is the most important thing Cantrell can do to reduce crime?

  • Persuade the City Council to give police more money – 28%
  • Replace Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson – 15.8%
  • Launch a public campaign to reduce crime – 15.8%
  • Encourage Ferguson but not meddle with police strategy and tactics – 13.9%
  • Solicit more public input on reducing crime – 12.9%
  • Other – 12.9%.

The results of that question illustrate the difficulty of combating crime, especially in an urgent period that calls for quick solutions. It’s one thing to arrest and prosecute offenders, but it’s another to make systemic changes that will reduce the crime rate itself.

Clearly, residents are alarmed.

“We have surpassed the tipping point with the criminal acts that have touched every neighborhood and every citizen,” said Mark Romig, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at New Orleans & Co., the convention and visitors promoter. “I remember clearly the [1996] murders at [Louisiana] Pizza Kitchen. It regretfully took that horrific incident to get some action – which actually saw improvements. I fear we are beyond this at this moment.”

Some survey respondents offered clear, blunt solutions:

  • “LaToya needs to hire many more officers, work collaboratively with the FBI, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police and publicly shame Jason Williams and judges into doing their jobs,” said former City Council member Stacy Head.
  • “Recruit and retain more police officers. The department should have at least 1,600 officers to adequately police the city,” said Judge Kern Reese of the Civil District Court.
  • “End the consent decree for NOPD. Federal judges should not run a city agency,” said John Georges, co-owner of The Times-Picayune. “Let the police chief and mayor run their own agencies.”

New Orleans Police Academy graduation

Recruit Class No. 190 takes the oath of the police officer during a graduation ceremony at the New Orleans Police Training Academy on Dec. 18, 2020. Fourteen graduates were sworn in as new police officers in two ceremonies.

Others took a longer, more complex view:

  • “In the whole of human history, in all of our courses of investigation and study, the only things that reduce violent crime are poverty alleviation or extreme oppression,” said Asali Ecclesiastes, CEO of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center. “Which will we choose? Hint: The oppression ain’t working out so good so far.”
  • “If the approach to public safety focuses on arrests and policing, you’ve already lost the fight,” said Rashida Govan, executive director of the New Orleans Youth Alliance. “The city has to deal with root causes of the issues. You will never be able to arrest yourself out of the problem. If bullets don’t deter folks from a life of crime, then neither will the presence of police.”

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Conducted online Tuesday through Thursday, The Times-Picayune Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, nonprofits and community affairs, it does afford non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 348 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 101 voted, for a participation rate of 29%.

Sean Payton

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announces he’s leaving the team Jan. 25, 2022.

Turning to a lighter issue, but one also closely followed, the overwhelming consensus is that Sean Payton won’t stay away from football for long. More than half of Power Poll respondents see the former New Orleans Saints head coach as a television sports announcer or commentator a year from now. More than a third see him coaching another NFL team, and very few see him relaxing.

What will Sean Payton be doing a year from now?

  • Signing a contract to be a television sports announcer or commentator – 54.5%
  • Signing a contract to coach an NFL team – 36.6%
  • Living the easy life, with no financial connection to football – 7.0%
  • Other – 2.0%.

One other idea came from Byron LeBlanc, president of LeBlanc & Schuster public relations: “You did not include coaching his son’s football team. After the “Home Team” movie, he may find that more intriguing. Another one of his unpredictable calls.”

To succeed Payton, Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is the heavy favorite:

Who should be the Saints head coach for the 2022 season?

  • Dennis Allen, Saints defensive coordinator – 62%
  • Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator – 10.1%
  • Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator – 7.9%
  • Pete Carmichael, Saints offensive coordinator – 6.7%
  • Brian Flores, former Dolphins head coach – 5.6%
  • Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator – 3.4%
  • Joe Lombardi, Chargers offensive coordinator – 2.3%
  • Doug Pederson, Lions defensive coordinator – 0%.

And now that we have Mardi Gras season parades for the first time in two years, Power Poll members seem generally ready hit the streets, despite the lingering pandemic:

In light of public health, do you plan to attend Mardi Gras season parades this year?

  • Yes – 51%
  • No – 32%
  • Not sure – 17%.

The Times-Picayune Power Poll is a partnership between New Orleans’ daily newspaper and powerpoll.com, a nonpartisan survey, news and information company focused on the opinions of influential people. Powerpoll.com is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and surveys in 37 metropolitan markets.

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