NOPD officials peppered with questions over ongoing violence in city

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 28, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 28 at 6:41 PM

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS - Just after 2 pm Thursday, detectives combed the scene of a murder on Curran Road in New Orleans East.

At the exact same time, the NOPD's highest-ranking officials were addressing the city council over violent crime.

"Murder is down nine percent in the city of New Orleans. I have every expectation that by the end of 2012, crime overall -- of the major categories -- will be down in the city of New Orleans," said NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas.

Council member At-Large Stacy Head had a different perspective.

"Maybe my numbers are just wrong, but according to those numbers that were derived by my staff in Comstat, we are actually going up in crime," she said.

Serpas acknowledged the ongoing problems, but he said the department is on the right track.

"To be perfectly clear -- one crime is too many, one victim is too many, but we're beginning to see the fruits of the work and the trends are going in the direction that we've all been hoping for," he said.

Serpas said the NOPD is making strides with its 65-point violence reduction plan -- developed in 2010.

Officials said they're moving into a new phase of strategies -- including a focus on breaking up gang activity and an effort to improve job opportunities for those who are released from jail.

However, council members seemed focused on one major point -- the need for more officers on the streets, as some said violence seems to be bleeding across neighborhood lines.

"Crimes of opportunity happen, but I think murders and shootings are out of the ordinary. It's like the mayor says, it's unnatural, and now that it's spreading to areas that have never experienced that, it becomes really unnatural to them," said District D Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

As the discussion over the NOPD’s staffing continued, Serpas said he plans to ask the city for as many as 50 new crime cameras -- to be placed in crime hot spots.

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