U.S. attorney nominee focusing on crime

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 15, 2013 at 6:10 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 15 at 6:21 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- U.S. Attorney nominee Kenneth Polite is vowing to focus on street crime if confirmed by the Senate.

The news comes on the heels of another bloody weekend in the New Orleans metro area, where seven people were shot and five killed in a 12-hour span.

Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche says Polite is telling him what he is also telling members of Congress.

"Historically, a great portion of that office's assets have been devoted to street crime," said Goyeneche. "He recognizes that."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and its FBI counterparts have been best known in recent years for taking down corrupt public officials.

"It's been expressed to me that his interest in street crime and public comments about street crime are not meant to be any type of indication that he is going to de-emphasis public corruption," said Goyeneche.

Eyewitness News Legal Analyst Chick Foret says about 20 federal prosecutors in New Orleans are already focused on drugs, violent crime and guns.

"Even though the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans is better known for the public corruption cases under Jim Letten, I would suggest to you there has in fact been a concentration on violent crime," said Foret.

Foret also says this weekend's violence is a sad indication that more needs to be done to combat violent crime in the city and surrounding area.

"You could make the argument that this is a triage type situation, where whatever resources there are available need to be thrown at this problem."

Former U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan says he hopes Polite will take a fresh look at the crime problem.

"To continue to focus attention on drug offenders is not working," said Jordan. "We can't be a safe city with a murder problem. I hope he brings new ideas to the fight and looks at models that are working around the country. Mr. Polite would be in the best position to champion a problem that got a lot of lip service here in recent years."

Jordan also commented on Polite's background.

"His experience as a prosecutor in New York City bodes well for New Orleans."

Kenneth Polite is not publicly discussing his priorities prior to his yet to be scheduled confirmation hearing.

He could be confirmed before Congress takes its annual summer break, next month.

 

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