NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has announced plans to create a new violence reduction task force, as the city continues to experience a substantial uptick in violent crime.
Our partners at NOLA.com report that Cantrell will create a 14-member group that includes interim NOPD Superintendent Michelle Woodfork, District Attorney Jason Williams, the heads of a number of city departments, Cantrell administration appointees and other leaders of the city's criminal-justice system.
The members of the Taskforce in full are:
- Commissioner Tenisha Stevens, Office of Criminal Justice Coordination
- Interim Superintendent Woodfork, NOPD
- Consulting Chief of Operations Fausto Pichardo, NOPD
- Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans Health Department
- Director Patrick Young, Mayor’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention
- Director John Thomas, Public Safety and Homeland Security
- Deputy CAO Thomas Mulligan, Office of Business and External Services
- Director Asya Howlette, Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families
- Director Gregory Joseph, Mayor’s Office of Communications
- District Attorney Jason Williams, Orleans Parish
- Chief Judge Robin Pittman, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court
- Chief Judge Ranord Darensburg, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court
They will be tasked with recommending various policy and legislative actions at all levels of government.
Cantrell announced the formation of the task force at a Wednesday morning press conference.
Since the start of 2023, there have been 12 homicides already in New Orleans. The city dealt with over 260 murders in 2022.
“Violent crime is a public health threat and it is a public epidemic. We’re seeing that first hand in our community," Cantrell said Wednesday.
The Violent Crime Reduction Task Force will be under the command of Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) Executive Director Tyrell Morris. Morris said the top priority for the task force is to reduce violent crime and take violent offenders off the streets.
“In 2022, major cities across the country, including New Orleans, experienced a spike in violent crime, as well as a reduction in available law enforcement providers,” said Cantrell. “So far, 2023 has already been met with a significant increase in violent crime, and now with the proper resources at our disposal, I cannot think of a better moment to establish this task force. This group will be laser focused on preventing violent crime in our city, as well as assisting enforcement partners to remove the most violent offenders from our streets. By embedding ourselves within the community and bringing all stakeholders together in a more unified, collaborative and holistic manner, this will ultimately lead to a reduction in violent crime across our city and improve the overall quality of life for our residents and visitors.”
According to a release, the Violent Crime Task Force’s priorities will include:
- Preventing of acts of violence by embedding themselves in the community and orchestrating a “full government response” to detect, deter and intervene before an act of violence happens
- Assisting Interim NOPD Superintendent Michelle Woodfork, the brave men and women of the NOPD and all other law enforcement partners to apprehend violent offenders, which includes constantly evaluating internal policies, providing legislative recommendations to both Mayor Cantrell and the City Council and removing any barriers between a need and a resource
- Ensuring that comprehensive wraparound services are brought to bear
“It is no secret that the City of New Orleans is experiencing a violent crime spike that must be treated as a public health emergency,” said Morris. “The executive action taken today by Mayor Cantrell is a bold and strong move in our quest to curb the current trends. This task force will spare no resource or opportunity to bring any criminal offenders to justice. New Orleans is a phenomenal city with a bright future, and we will not allow heinous acts of violent crime derail our collective progress and prosperity as a community.”
"(We will) work with senior leadership to deploy resources and help NOPD stop acts of violence. NOPD can’t do it alone," Morris said Wednesday.
"This task force will spare no resource to bring you to justice."