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New Idea for NOPD Logo

082006_copshurt.jpg

So, I lifted this picture off of nola.com, it goes with this story. The story is about some car chase that ended up with this NOPD car getting totalled, but I would like to use this picture to call attention to the graphics on the side of the police car. All of the new NOPD vehicles are getting this design on them, surely you’ve seen one by now. I’ve been trying to get a better picture of one for months, but I’m always afraid of getting beaten down by cops for doing so, so this picture will have to suffice.

To put it bluntly, it is a weak design. These cop cars look like they belong in Providence, RI or some other milquetoast place whose criminal element is limited to pets escaping from backyards and kids shoplifting candy bars. They have this vaguely futuristic look, reminiscent of the cop cars from the film “Robocop.” No wonder crime is out of control here. Our police look like a bunch of dandies driving around in these silly things. Might as well replace their guns with super soakers while you’re at it. I really preferred the old, old design of a simple crescent and star and nothing else. That meant business. But obviously the department is trying to look progressive and 21st century and what not, so that isn’t going to work. So here is what I think should be placed on the sides of all new NOPD vehicles:
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Give Blood For Injured NOPD Officer

Would it hurt them to publish his blood type? From nola.com:

The New Orleans Police Department is seeking blood donations for the officer who was shot Monday afternoon and was undergoing sugery Monday evening. Interested persons may give blood at 2701 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey and at 3400 16th St. in Metairie.

Update: May 24, 2006 12:45PM Just got off the phone with NOPD Public Affairs and they have no new information on the status of the officer.

23 comments

NOPD Strategy Change

One of today’s top stories is Eddie Compass supposedly taking the police department in a different direction. He wants more emphasis on building trust within the community and less emphasis on hassling the little guy. They admit that checkpoints, traffic stops, and shaking down random people on the street have not been effective at combating crime, and have actually served to create mistrust and tension between the police and the community. The “new” police force will create a bond between the community and the police and foster an environment in which people won’t be afraid to step forward and help solve crimes. Along with this comes a greater focus on combating serious and violent crimes, meaning less enforcement of petty “quality of life” laws. At least that’s how I understand it.

Let’s hope the NOPD can genuinely follow through with this change instead of just offering lip service. I’ll certainly rest easier in knowing that the cops are not out to bust me for committing certain moving violations, and that one day we may actually see prostitutes, in broad daylight, walking Tulane Ave. Maybe a return to the glory days of carefree sleaze and mirth is ahead? Probably not, but it sure would be nice.

4 comments

The Criminals and the Crime Cameras

If only the crime cameras had been focused on THIS guy

Jury selection started this past Monday in the civil trial that alleges the City of New Orleans Technology Office basically stole other companies ideas and then tried to sell them to other cities as their own technology. The guy to your left is former technology chief Greg Meffert. During the 2006 mayoral campaign, the radio station met a man named Grant Holcumb. This was maybe 5 months after Hurricane Katrina and the issue of interoperability in communications was a major issue and topic of discussion. Mr. Holcumb had developed a system that basically would have allowed all types of different communication systems to operate openly during times of emergency. I’m not attempting to re-hash old news, just point out that Mr. Holcumb basically accused Greg Meffert of squashing the program because the city had existing deals with Microsoft, which would not have benefited from the open system Mr Holcumb had developed.

Mayor Nagin has touted the current “crime camera” program over and over again as a way to assist the NOPD with not only getting a handle on crime in so-called hot spots throughout the city but also help the police and DA’s office solve crimes. The initial plan was for 1000 cameras throughout the city. Then it became 240 cameras at a proposed cost of 2.6 million. Which wasn’t the case. The IG’s office released a report that stated the city at that point had paid 6.6 million out for far less than 240 cameras. As we have found out recently as well, the cameras that have been installed rarely work because of networking and other issues. It is also my understanding that not one city owned crime camera has lead to a arrest of a suspected criminal of any kind. Privately owned surveillance cameras have given the police more leads than the city owned and installed for 6.6 million dollar cameras have.

The Mayor’s Technology office has been under fire frankly since the interoperability issue came to light. Focus on that office seemed to grow after then local Homeland Security director Col. Terry Ebert stated that he thought the system Mr Holcumb had developed would have worked during Hurricane Katrina and “helped save lives.” The Mayors office didn’t allow any more interviews from Col Ebert after that one. Shocking huh?

The civil suit is just the beginning with the Mayor’s Office of Technology. The Feds are all over that joint like white on rice. Trips paid for by companies receiving city contracts through that office, companies owned by the “Director’s” of the office doing business with basically the office and budgets they controlled. This is the tip of the iceberg with these folks and I would be willing to bet everything I own that some folks who worked or ran that particular city agency will end up in jail for a long time. If only the crime cameras had been working and recording the criminals who were charged with installing the crime camera network.

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The Blue Shirts are back

The NOPD, after hurricane Katrina, changed uniforms from the old sky blue look that the NOPD had worn for as long as I could remember to a what some would call black uniform. The reason for the change as explained to citizens, was that some of the blue uniforms had been lost or stolen during the chaos after Katrina.

The majority of NOPD officers were not happy. The black uniforms seemed to attract the heat during the summer and while not all officers are out of shape, I doubt that it’s the most svelte department in the land. I like the blue uniforms, they are classic New Orleans and well we worry about things like that around here.

Well the blue shirts return Friday morning just in time for Mardi Gras. I for one am glad but I do have a little concern. Have the lost or stolen blue shirt uniforms all been gathered up and stored? Did we find all the lost or stolen blue shirts?  With the amount of angst going on in the city right now with citizens feeling that crime is out of control, I think most people would feel a little better about the NOPD stopping the murders of innocent people instead of what color shirt they wear on a daily basis.

On a personal note, I am back as well and hopefully in a better frame of mind than a year and a half ago.

4 comments

Mid-City Bonfire Battle

Mid City Bonfire

Yesterday, life in the ‘Little Difficult’ began with an email circulating the news that the Nagin administration has decided that it will suddenly enforce the bonfire ban this year, a passive/aggressive threat to the Annual Mid City New Year’s Eve Bonfire on Orleans Ave.

MCNO has been informed that the City of New Orleans is taking steps to
prevent the New Year’s Eve Bonfire (typically in the 4200 Block of
Orleans Avenue), due to the risk to public safety and violation of a
number of City codes. An informational session will be jointly hosted
by NOPD, NOFD, and Parks & Parkways on Monday December 22, 2008 at
6:30pm, at Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal Street. The purpose of
the session is to proactively inform residents and business owners
about the City’s enforcement plans for the night of the event.

Today, it sounds like Mid-City is ready-to-rumble over the survival of this 70-year long tradition. The official flyer from the City and news can be found at the Mid City Neighborhood Blog.

This is Councilwoman Midura’s District, I sent her an email this morning and got this quick reply:

It’s illegal and extremely dangerous. I am 100% supportive of the Fire Department’s effort to protect the neighborhood from a terrible tragedy. It’s against the law. Come to the meeting next week and raise your idea with the Fire Dept. They will be able to tell you whether or not it’s permissible under the law. I cannot support anything that is against the law. It would be contrary to my duties as an elected official sworn to uphold the law.

I replied that I believe some safe compromise could be reached since no such tragedy has ever materialized.

Give her a ringy-dingy; Phone: (504) 658-1010.
Email: smidura@cityofno.com

The Times- Picayune picked this up today.

1 comment

Jingle Bell Glock

Were you fool enough to ride out Katrina over by your mama’s house? After the storm, did the Boys in Blue putter by in a tricked-out swamp cruiser and declare that they would be better stewards of your Cadillac, your plasma TV, and your Remington 12-gauge? Well, Xmas has come early, kiddo: thanks to a new program overseen by the people who violated your Second Amendment rights in the first place, now you can get the 12-gauge back!

To retrieve your confiscated weapon, just read and follow the list of procedures below. Please note, however, that there’s no guarantee the NOPD has your firearm. (Sometimes they lose things. Nobody’s perfect!) But don’t let that stop you from saying a couple of quick novena’s to St. Jude and dropping by the Evidence Room. With a little luck and a little “palm grease”, you’ll be shooting yourself in the leg in no time!


Hurricane Katrina Firearms

City will return lawfully possessed firearms that came into possession of the New Orleans Police Department during the Hurricane Katrina period, August 29, 2005, to December 31, 2005.

What:
Those who may have had a firearm turned into the New Orleans Police during the Hurricane Katrina and aftermath period, August 29 to December 31, 2005, may apply for its return.

Who:
New Orleans Police Department

When:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Office hours, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where:
1116 Magnolia Street, New Orleans, LA 70115

How:
Complete this Firearm Release Form and submit in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

Firearm Release Form Directions/FAQ

  • This form only applies to firearms that came into the custody of the New Orleans Department during the period of Hurricane Katrina from August 29, 2005 to December 31, 2005.

  • There is no guarantee that we have your firearm!

  • IT ONLY APPLIES TO FIREARMS THAT WERE LAWFULLY POSSESSED.

  • IF IT CAME INTO CUSTODY AS THE RESULT OF AN ARREST OR MUNICIPAL CITATION, OR IF IT IS EVIDENCE, THE FIREARM REQUIRES A COURT ORDER BEFORE IT MAY BE RELEASED.

  • The form must be submitted with all fields completed in order to identify the proper firearm.

  • IF UNKNOWN OR NOT APPLICABLE, LEAVE THE FIELD BLANK.

  • The Form should be submitted in person to the New Orleans Police Department.

  • The Claimant is the firearm owner and the person who fills out the form.

  • Once NOPD receives the completed form which sets forth the specific identifying characteristics, a search for the firearm will be conducted.

  • If the search is successful, the Claimant will be asked to personally examine and verify ownership.

  • Only the Claimant may come in and inspect the firearm.

  • Proper identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID, will be required at the inspection.

  • The Claimant’s name will be run through a background check to determine if the Claimant is legally able to possess a firearm.

  • If it is determined that a particular firearm is in fact Claimant’s, the Claimant will be required to sign the Affidavit part at the bottom of the form at the Evidence Room.

  • The Claimant will also be required to complete a Release and Hold Harmless Agreement, agreeing to indemnify the City should a dispute arise as to the ownership of a firearm returned under these procedures.

  • This Release and Hold Harmless form must be signed in front of a Notary Public.

  • Once this release is returned by the Claimant to the Evidence Room, the firearm will be released to the Claimant.

  • Children should not be brought to the Evidence Room.

If there are any questions, please contact Sgt Robert Blanchard at (504) 658-5550

Note: This is only for lawfully possessed firearms for the applicable period, and does not apply to any firearm that is being held as evidence in a case or investigation.

–via the always unintentionally entertaining CityOfNO.com.

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Crime Stats Online

Bust on N. Robertson St. Treme (4)   Bank Robbery Suspect Chased to Oak St.

In case you have been living under a rock and missed this, the recent Op-Ed by Comstat veteran, Brian Denzer, in the Times-Picayune blasted the continued, irritated concern of citizens regarding the release of crime statistics from the NOPD as a real tool for addressing violent crime in the city simply by transparency. The theory is that if the NOPD would release timely information, citizens can then provide more eyes and ears on the ground and use it to create new tools in their own neighborhoods and assist NOPD in stemming crime by identifying trends earlier with on-the-ground observation.

Many people are wondering what has happened to the Crime Camera contract the Mayor has been promising. In the meantime, potential witnesses who happen to see the wrong thing, at the wrong time are still being killed in our streets, like Helen Hill. Crime cameras could help alleviate this senseless loss of life and help the NOPD get some solid anonymous evidence to keep violent criminals in jail.

Access to current information has been a long-standing issue among residents who have returned since Katrina. The citizens of New Orleans were called upon to be part of the larger planning process since Katrina and have all been very engaged in making things better with this opportunity to voice their fundamental concerns. Every planning session I attended noted Crime as the number one issue for rebuilding New Orleans with a better qualtiy of life in the city. Citizens were smart enough to know that this issue was closely linked to better jobs, economic developement and improved schools as part of the long-term issue as well. We demanded all of this. Citizens were loud and clear in late 2005. They are still screaming about the issue of crime cameras today. The Nagin adminstration remains cavalier about this and all citizen concerns and despite the continued pile of victims, it seems we have gone nowhere.

However, thanks to the initiative of Thom Kahler’s website which only covers the 8th district, he pushed the T-P to help get faster access to crime reports on behalf of citizens. Thom’s bold and free-speech approach to crime coverage makes us all wish we lived in the 25’s.

Without the Crime Camera project, which remains incomplete, we are all getting more disenfranchised about the administration since this was a huge concern city-wide in the two-years of planning hell we went through. It all seems to have gone out to lunch with the Mayor and his wife in Dallas. Where has that contract money gone?

A few diligent citizens have used the Times Picayune’s statistics to create excellent online tools using this information. Thanks to Thom, and Rob and Brian Denzer and people like Baty Landis and Ken Foster who have pushed the issue for a few years now. Here is where we are today with online tools citywide. If you know of anything in your neighborhood, please let us know.

Current Online Crime Tools:
Citizen Crime Watch
Rob Schafer and Ben Gauslin have created this very useful tool. Using Google Maps, it provides a visual view that’s very familiar and (hopefully) easier to understand than page after page of text. Linking incidents to news and police reports provides much-needed context to the pins on the map. And since every incident is stored in a database that data can be examined to generate statistics over time to help understand crime rates, what areas are dangerous, what crimes are committed when, etc.

New Orleans Murder BlogAll things crime. All things New Orleans. This blog doesn’t condone murder, or death.

New Orleans Crimeline by Thom Kahler.

We believe if citizens have information about threats to their safety they will hopefully be able to take precautions against becoming victims.

Sites with archived information:
Citizen CrimeWatch

This site is not currently mapping crimes in New Orleans but gives some good background information on crime mapping initiatives in other cities. One great example is Washington, D.C.

In 2004, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) was asked to develop a program called Citywide Data Warehouse (CityDW), formerly known as DCStat, to support the District’s Hot Spot crime reduction initiative. To do so, CityDW designed a data warehouse to store agency data and created various presentation tools in an attempt to increase transparency by publishing more information across agencies and to the public.

Today CityDW ’s mission is to provide a centralized access point for enterprise-wide data with a focus on providing real-time operational data from multiple agencies and sources that enables decision support and government transparency. To that extent, CityDW works with the Office of the City Administrator, the CapStat program, and district agencies supplying both data and business intelligence tools. Residents and businesses now have access to information through our Summary Reports and Data Catalog and Data Feeds.

Crime Reports.com Thankfully, we have Citizen Crime Watch, a similar program, created by volunteers who have devoted their time to constructing a similar site for New Orleans. The issue we could press as citizens is to get access to map the “calls for service” as they come in. Running a routine on the computer could extend this current application to map these calls-for- service as they happen, automatically. If only the City would permit access to that information.

City of New Orleans, NOPD:
The NOPD website doesn’t map crimes in a timely manner, they wait til reports are cleared through a larger bureaucracy, which gives them the opportunity to manipulate the numbers to their advantage, not ours.
NOPD Crime Stat Maps

Advocacy Groups Related to Crime:
Silence is Violence

New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission

Court Watch New Orleans

Police Assoc. of New Orleans

Safe Streets NOLA

Times Picayune Forum, for when you just want to bitch about the problem:
Times-Picayune Crime Forum

2 comments

Hurricane Dichotomy

This piece was written Tuesday night at home, where we have no power, Internet or whatever. But power came back on about 1am Wednesday morning, so we’re okay now.

We‘re experiencing what I call The Hurricane Dichotomy. It’s that weird existence following a storm in which one works in a reasonably normal environment with a/c, power, lights and all the conveniences of Modern Living, but then returns each evening to the Dark Ages, in which everything is dark and much more like things were 200 or so years ago. When it got dark outside, it was simply dark — unless someone pulled out a lantern or torch or some other thing that made light. This also meant it was cold in the winter or, in our case now, hot and humid in the summer (until it gets hot and humid in the fall, about three weeks from now).

Much of the city remains without power again tonight, and it’s a rather checkerboarded pattern We’ve set up the generator, which is making its lawnmower noise out back, and run a lot of extension cords throughout the house. This creates a complicated web of things to trip over in the middle of the night, so it’s good practice to empty yourself completely before going to bed. We’ve opted not to hook up power-sucking items like the fridge (which we emptied of potential olfactory hazards before the storm) and air conditioning, It’s basically some lights and a few fans and space left over to charge phones, etc. We’ve also powered the router and all, but there is no signal coming into the modem so we’re kinda SOL for going online at the house. Wireless signals are too far away (at least five blocks or so), so we’re out of communication at night except for any cell phones (half of which aren’t working in New Orleans for now)

The generator sets up a pretty good white noise, once you get used to it. Perhaps there could be a market in hurricane-prone areas for such background sounds, similar to those with the sound of gently breaking waves or the other stuff you can find on relaxation CDs. Down here, the rockabye noises would include generators, popping nail guns on re-roof jobs, Coast Guard helicopters overhead, NOPD sirens, ship horns on the river, streetcar bells and bums asking you for a cigarette. Ah. sweet home New Orleans. Zzzzzzzzzz.

We actually went through this during Tropical Storm Cindy, that thing that hit here about a month before Katrina. TBK and I were able to nest up in a generator-powered room with an a/c unit and we could also run the TV and the PC and some lights and all kinds of things. But back then we were only two. Now we are five in the house, with Milo upstairs and Kristen and Matt downstairs, so things are stretched out a little more.

Last time, all this lasted about a week. This time, it appears Baton Rouge (which caught things worse than us) and New Orleans are apparently off the grid and on our own little Electrical Island. There are some 850,000 of us sitting around in the dark tonight around Louisiana.

I think that’s a good thing from time to time. Sometimes being in the dark makes us see things a lot more clearly.

1 comment

Fits and starts

Kinda weird around town today. We’re functioning, but we’re not. We opened our place at lunch and will go until the food is out. I’ve got a couple briskets working for tonight, but they’re not going to last long. The problem is that ALL re-supply places are closed until at least tomorrow or later in the week because their employees hit the road and aren’t back or won’t be allowed back for a few days yet. It’s frustrating, since so many places have power and inventory, but no one to sell it. I’ve got manpower and electricity, but little inventory. What I could really use right now is beer — not to drink but to sell.

There’s no gasoline, no grocery stores, no convenience stores and only a smattering of other retail-type places open (no power). The juice is also still out at the house, but we’ll get the generator back over there tonight. None of us slept well last night because it was dead still, hot and sticky. It’ll be a big help to get a few fans going this evening.

Authorities are telling evacuees to wait another couple of days before coming back, but I don’t think they’re exactly setting up many roadblocks. It’s not like we’re trying to make the house look nice after a big party. Except for downed limbs and a lack of power, it’s impossible to tell in many areas that we had any kinda of storm — ’cause it was trashed since way before even Katrina.

…so we’ve essentially got another day or so of Labor Day.

I can’t say enough about the NOPD and their officers, as well as the National Guard. They’re been professional but flexible throughout this entire event. And, of course, we’ve managed to have a great time here at the restaurant. Alex and Milo have more than carried their share while being bone-tired, Kristen and Matt have been doing above and beyond to make things work and Stu and Melanie have been juggling more objects than they should. It has truly been a group effort and we’ve managed to have fun doing it. We all wanted to take a day off today, but once we saw how many peole needed feeling, everyone went back to it.

Thanks to all of you.

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