NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell made an appearance on the CBS public affairs program Face The Nation on Sunday to discuss crime, policing, and the ongoing recall effort against her.
Cantrell was first asked about the ongoing issue with policing, in particular the NOPD's lack of officers. She responded by praising the city's recruitment and officer retention effort, as well as crediting the money received in the American Rescue Plan.
"It's about retention and it is also about recruitment. This second tranche of the American rescue plan dollars coming our way with direct allocation has really been a lifeline where we're putting 80 million in public safety across the board. One of the biggest in terms of a retention and incentive package to retain, we see it slowing down, meaning attrition is declining, our officers are staying," Cantrell said.
"And so we just have to continue to give the tools and resources that our officers need to respond."
Cantrell added that she's seen positive results regarding the redeployment strategy, although statistics do not back up the claim that the redeployment strategy is as fruitful as she claims.
Crime analyst Jeff Asher says there were only 25 new officers hired last year out of 2,590 applicants, a ratio of one or one-and-a-half percent of applicants to new hires, and of the 2,590 applicants, only about 450 showed up to take the entrance exam, according to Police Association of New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler.
Regarding the crime issue and New Orleans' designation as the city with the highest murder rate in the country, Cantrell said she believes COVID-19 played a factor, as well as a seeming lack of accountability.
"Dealing with COVID-19, violence, everyone has guns... the lack of ability to resolve a conflict without reaching for or pulling a gun. Also, as it relates to accountability, low-lining offenses where (offenders) don't get bail (set) or they're not restrained, we're seeing how these crimes escalate," Cantrell said in response to host Margaret Brennan when asked about the city's surging crime rate.
Cantrell added that she has seen results to lead her to believe the city is moving in the right direction when it comes to crime. She didn't clarify which results she was referring to.
"People need to be held accountable, across the board. You can't fight crime, just focusing on police. It's about a system, a criminal justice system. It's about the D.A., your judges, and it's about building in accountability," Cantrell said.
"Everyone needs to be held accountable. And that's how we're focusing on it, holistic approach in the city of New Orleans, definitely seeing a decline moving in the right direction."
Brennan final question to the mayor was in regard to the ongoing recall effort she's facing, an effort which must collect roughly 54,000 valid signatures by February 22 in order to put the question on the ballot.
Mayor Cantrell expressed confidence that the effort wouldn't succeed.
"Based on what I see, the residents of my city definitely appreciate continuity in leadership. And so with that, that speaks to keeping progress moving and alive under my leadership. Elected twice in the city. 61% the first time, 65% the second time.
"Continuity and leadership is what I'm seeing by my people."