NEW ORLEANS - For the first time in its history, the city of New Orleans is creating an anti-gang unit to help curb crime and stop the violence. On Thursday afternoon, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the latest initiative in his murder reduction plan.
The proposal is part of the city's "NOLA for Life" plan.
If you can't put down the gun and stop the gunfire, we'll come after you was the message being echoed by Mayor Landrieu, Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman and other representatives from a total of 11 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
The agencies are teaming up to create a Multi-Agency Gang Unit led by the New Orleans Police Department which will dedicate six full-time officers to the unit. The goal is to combat gang and group violence in New Orleans. Landrieu says that criminal activity is being driven by about 600 individuals who have been identified in specific neighborhoods --- all members of dozens of gangs or groups.
"We have at least 39 groups of individuals that can be as small as three and as large as 15 that are loosely associated and behave in criminal behavior," said Landrieu who stressed that only 30 are currently active.
District Attorney Cannizzaro says the Gang Unit will work closely with his office to make sure that suspected criminals go through the criminal justice system in groups not just as individuals.
Another key part of this new plan according to the Mayor is creating jobs opportunities and training to help encourage gang members to stop the criminal activity and choose another path in life.