Mayor Cantrell Creates Violent Crime Reduction Task Force
The executive order brings together city leaders from law enforcement, criminal justice, public health, public safety, infrastructure, City Council and more.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed an executive order on Wednesday creating the New Orleans Violent Crime Reduction Task Force, with Orleans Parish Communications District Executive Director Tyrell Morris at the helm.
“As you know, in the year 2022 major cities across our country experienced a real increase in violent crime, and also a reduction in the available law enforcement providers,” Cantrell said during a press briefing. She went on to note that 2022 ended with over 260 homicides - which wes also the leading cause of death of children in New Orleans.
The annoucement comes just days after City Council president Helena Moreno sent a letter to the mayor’s office urging Cantrell to create a “command unit” comprised of city departments to “urgently, and daily, address the crisis of violence” in the city. Cantrell says that she was already planning the task force when she received the letter on Monday, but that it shows an “alignment of thought” on the issue of violent crime between herself and the City Council.
According to Cantrell, the task force will be structured similarly to her COVID-19 task force, and will use the lessons learned during that public health emergency to inform operations though this crisis.
“The task force will be engaged every hour, every day, much like when fighting COVID-19,” Cantrell said, suggesting that there will be a “war room” established for task force members to meet 24 hours a day, look at data sets, and discuss measures that need to be taken to reduce instances of violent crime.
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Announced members of the task force include:
Tyrell Morris, OPCD Executive Director
Tenisha Stevens, Criminal Justice Commissioner
Michelle Woodfork, NOPD Interim Superintendent
Dr. Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans Health Director
Patrick Young, Office of Gun Violence Prevention Director
John Thomas, New Orleans Public Safety Director
Thomas Mulligan, New Orleans Deputy CAO
Aysa Howlette, Office of Youth and Families Director
Anamaria Villamarin-Lupin, LCSW-BACS, Office of Youth and Families Deputy Director
Owen Parker, OPSB President
Jason Williams, New Orleand District Attorney
Chief Judge Robin Pittman, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court
Chief Judge Ranord Darensburg, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court
Gregory Joseph, New Orleans Communications Director
Fausto Pichardo, NOPD Deputy COO
Each announced member of the task force was chosen for their decision making power within the city, noting that they can immediately put in place new policies and procedures based on task force recommendations.
“We’re going to continue to be holistic,” Cantrell noted, saying that the task force will not solely be focused on NOPD’s efforts. Instead, her executive order requires that task force members engage the community on quality of life issues - though at present there are no community members appointed to the task force itself.
“The City of New Orleans is indeed experiencing a violent crime spike, and the executive action taken today by the mayor is a bold move in our quest to curb the current trend,” Morris said.
He outlined three objectives that the task force intends to pursue:
The prevention of acts of violence by embedding task force members in the community and orchestrating a “full government response” to detect, deter, and intervene before an act of violence happens.
To assist New Orleans law enforcement partners in apprehending violent offenders. This includes regularly evaluating internal polices, making recommendations to the mayor and City Council, and removing barriers between department needs and resources.
Assisting victims, offenders, and families on both sides with comprehensive, wrap-around services.
Although both Cantrell and Morris stressed that the task force would provide the public with regular updates on results, and set a hopeful 60-day timeline, neither was willing to outline specific accountability metrics. “It’s a little premature,” to outline those metrics given the task force was just established, Morris noted, saying that those metrics would be discussed with the public after task force members had a chance to meet and look at data.
“We will share when we have something to share,” Cantrell said when pressed on the issue.
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