Below are my notes from the meeting on crime held yesterday at Buffa's. I am a fast typist, but still a lot of it is paraphrased while holding the basic content of the statement together---lots of words, not enough fingers! I have put some of my personal notes in parentheses and I think I fixed all the abbreviations. Thanks to the always wonderful liprap for looking it over. I can't guarantee that all names are spelled correctly, and at some points lots of people were talking all at once. I hope that this gives you the overall picture of what was discussed and what recommendations were made.
I have to say that I was very impressed with the turnout, and with Councilmen Fielkow and Carter's patience in listening. I was also very happy that District Attorney Cannizzaro took such an active part.
As for NOPD, well, nothing to be said there really.
I really have to thank Terry Taravella for grabbing my camera and taking the photos. It was clear that there was no way I could type and take photos at the same time, and she just stepped right in.
Buffa's Crime Meeting Notes
Meeting called by Camille Burgin
(nola.com FQ forums – organized through there)
11:55AM approx 30 ppl in back room, WDSU outside covering it, another station, still unidentified coming in the door.
NOON: Lord David outside doing an interview. Someone in Buffa's refused entrance to the news crews. More people arriving every minute.
12:01PM James Carter arrives.
Camille Burgin opens meeting.
“I know everybody's scared. I know I am., Husband works at in Quarter, walks to get his car at St. Louis and Rampart every night 2AM or later. She waits for him with fear every night.
We're all upset. The thing I don't want us to do is let the fear and horror to go away. We need to channel it so that we can prevent it from happening again.
Three times the violent crimes of Mobile between January and June of last year.
I don't know the answers. I don't want us all to think alike. I want to get some solutions.”
Our city council man, James Carter, introduced.
I'd like to say that it's really shameful what happened to the woman who lost her life.
We have to make sure we have visible patrols in these areas. That is going to happen. The city has dispersed the light people to fix the lights throughout the Quarter. We have to continue to focus on these violent repeat offenders who prey on the citizens of NOLA. DA's representatives are here, I want to thank them for attending. Councilman Fielkow is here. I want to hear what you all have to say.
I never see patrols. Who can we call to get patrols?
Major Kelly (? Not sure if that’s the name said)
Brian Denzer did a presentation and Carter doesn't know why he was turned down.
He (Denzer) came and did another presentation.
The above came from Lord David saying go to NOLA website tons of places to pay fines no place to report crime, why wasn't Denzer's proposal accepted.
Fielkow: Denzer has been in front of us for two weeks now. DC has something like his proposal. Yesterday council voted have those people meet with Denzer immediately.
Harrison Boyd Tech Director-- Barrage his office, reference council CapStat (I think that’s the name) program, tell him to talk to Brian Denzer to implement it immediately.
Fielkow: This is ridiculous. Long term needs to be reformed, but for shorter term it's crime cameras that aren't working, lights not working, strategic problems.
Major Hosli couldn't get clearance to come here because he was not invited. Make sure police have formal invitation to come to ANY meeting like this.
Crowd has grown. Folks are starting to shout out complaints.
We're being outsmarted by 15 yr old kids with no education (attendee comment)
Carter: Outside of Bourbon St do you ever see patrols.
Entire room says NO.
Woman complaining about the tap dancers, calling them pickpockets and gangsters.
Carter again asked re:foot patrols.
One in audience says she saw one the other day, the cop said he had to do it for a couple weeks.
Woman saying she comes home from gigs at 2AM carries a blade.
The cops are certainly around when a car needs to be towed.
How long can we have MP's here. Safer with them than NOPD.
Guard term has been extended four times, can't be done again.
Lord David: telling story from his post re: Billy Sothern's robbery report of a theft involving a cell phone. (Humid City)Re-read Lord David's Humid City post as reference.
658-6800 number for Internal Affairs.
Fielkow: you need to come up with a laundry list of what you think needs to be done. Schedule a meeting w/Hosli and Riley asap, let council participate with you.
What comes out of this has to be fed and put into action, get some representatives and schedule a meeting. James Carter is the head of the Crime committee.
NEWS CREWS NOW LET IN.
Fielkow: If the DA will also attend the meeting you schedule that would help.
Aud: is there anything the council can do to get Riley to respond.?
A call for his resignation gets applause.
We work mostly in the service industry. If this keeps happening we'll have no revenue brought into the city.
George Kulman “DamnYankees” screenname
Lives on Gov Nicholls betw Bourb and Royal, he's from NYC, raised Lower Eastside.
He says has been actively following things, had lived here part time for years, moved permanently after Katrina. What he's seen is horrendous event happens, everyone gets up in arms, in two weeks everything goes away. We must organize and hold every responsible party's feet to the fire.
I am not for vigilantism, but I will be getting a conceal carry license. I will also assist anyone else who wants one. It'll cost you 350 or so, but if we get a couple hundred people applying for carry permits, even if we don't CARRY the gun, it's the police dept's worst nightmare.
Second, city built on tourism. I don't want to hurt it. The people who can prevent that from happening are our council people, the mayor. We need our group to put banners, get a local news contact committee, national news contact. Tell people from out of town to rethink coming here.
MOST THINK THAT IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. (Basically the whole room disagreed)
George: Local patrols. Formal organization, crimewatch is a defunct organization but maybe we can take it over.
CANNIZZARO IS HERE IN BACK.
Geo: We will not be placated if action isn't taken. I will not be appeased like Chamberlain was appeased by Hitler.
Traceman: Wife and I live in the Marigny a couple blocks from the robbery. Thousands and thousands of banners and armbands so everywhere anyone goes in Quarter or Marigny will see “We're watching YOU.” You can wear them over your Mardi Gras costumes. Print on the armband “Ray Nagin is fill in the blank.” Make it yellow like police tape and a purple lightning bolt.
Aud: Armbands won't stop a bullet.
We need the police to do something.
5 armed robberies and one car jacking within the same area as Wendy's murder in the last month.
I tell my husband's story. Reference my post. (For the record, NOPD finally did call him back, asked him to come down and look at photo arrays. He was doing that as I was at this meeting.)
Terry Taravella says her hubs saw cop tried to get his attention, couldn't get the policeman's attention.
We just want the cops to do their jobs. There are no patrols. We're upset. We don't want to carry guns, we want the cops to do their jobs.
We also want them prosecuted.
Very sad circumstances that bring us together, but am glad to see the large number of people here who want to do something. It's going to take your involvement. You have to be vigilant, you have to call.. We ARE going to prosecute them to the full extent of the law. I have certain ethical and procedural rules because they are juveniles. We like to think of out 14 yrs olds as children, but if the put a gun in your chest they're not kids anymore. We need to get them off the street. We couldn't even give the names of the juveniles til we got permission from the court. The 14 yr old offender, we can not give the name or the nature of the charge until we file juvenile file court judge to transfer. We will probably be setting transf hearing for Monday. The 15 yr olds will probably be in front of a magistrate asking for bond, improbable that they will get it, that will happen this weekend.
60 day murder: Legislature has changed that to 120 days. We're still investigating that case. Saturday night our (DA’s office) investigators were on the crime scene. Team of three people with every investigative police unit.
I have to thank the council, we wouldn't have been able to get the funding to do the job we need to do. Information has to be gotten immediately, in the past DA's didn't get involved until 30, 60, 90 days after the arrest, now the witness has changed his mind, might not be locatable, or has been intimidated or killed. It's our game plan to get hold of those witnesses immediately to encourage them to stay with us as we prosecute the case.
The arrest does us no good unless or until we can get this person charged. We want to make sure these people are taken out of circulation forever.
I've had the misfortune of sitting with families of victims. I can't bring them back. I pledge to you that we will put them away. Please, I need your help.
I can't make any public statements (re:suspects). Many have been in the system before. It's important that we prevent them from moving up the crime ladder. Education is important, drug rehab is important. It's almost unthinkable that we have 15 yr olds like that in our society, we want to prevent other kids from escalating to these other crimes.
Get involved. Don't NOT prosecute if you're robbed, stay with it.
AUD: Can we call YOUR office?
DA: Lots of people don't want to file charges. I'm hearing that.
AUD: We're accused of being involved!!! (in the crime) Who do we call??? The cops accuse me of being part of an armed robbery and you want me to call THEM. What about police intimidation of someone reporting a crime? It's very common. (Lord David with others chiming in.)
DA: Call our office, but I need a police report.,
Lord David: What if that doesn't work.
AUD: Don't be so cynical. Make the call.
DA: I can't do anything without a complaint filed.
AUD Member to Lord David: I think your attitude is what's causing your problem.
DA: There MUST be a record. When something happens we can't say we didn't KNOW but we won't know if you don't report it. There's not good in every profession.
Being a cop is a difficult job, but we expect them to do it right. We make the decision in the DA's office whether or not to accept the charge. They take the complaint, present it to us, then we determine if there is a case.
(Personal note: I see only three people of color at this meeting with the exception of one of the camera man and one of the DA's assistants. I’m bothered by that as once again it is a white woman’s killing causing this outpouring. I’m wishing the group was more racially balanced.)
AUD: Wendy's murder is a totally predictable consequence. Go to the crime commission website and look at the numbers. Violent arrests here are less than 10 percent. (Metropolitan crime commission website) What are you gonna do to MAKE NOPD do their jobs. They are not making arrests for violent crimes.
DA: We will be on crime scenes to assist. Murders and rapes. Second: we've sat down with the superintendent and many of the deputies, we're trying to get them to improve their report writing and get people to testify. We're trying to improve the quality of police work. Everyone has to be treated with dignity and respect. We're working and trying to get the violent off the street. This is the first time the DA's office has brought people to the scenes of crimes in the history of NO. We have roughly 200 murders/1000 armed robberies (Personal Note: I believe those numbers were per year). We can't be at every crime scene, not enough money.
AUD Lord David: HOW DO WE MAKE THE COPS DO THEIR JOB?
To have a good criminal justice system we have to have police/DA/public defenders/judges. From a money standpoint we have given. Fielkow believes we have the right DA and judges. The mayor hires the police chief. The council can fire the executive branch, rarely used. Frustration in the council re:crime problems. Cops weren't invited, but it's BS that they didn't attend.
(At this point Camille Burgin says, they WERE invited. Fielkow says, “That’s even worse then.” He was visibly upset that they weren’t there.)
Here's what we can do for accountability:
We have a committed city council, who would like not to have to go to that extreme measure. Start at the top. Have your list, let Carter, Clarkson and I help you get your suggestions get to Riley. If that doesn't work, you'll see us move to the next level.
I do want to make a point. Please do not do anything that will hurt the economy. If we start to go on a national campaign to keep dollars out of here, then we can't get the money we need. So let's not do that.
AUD: So we get the list together and do what you recommend what timeline are we looking at?
Fielkow: Get your three reps, meet with us, then we'll get hold of the DA, and get Riley to meet with you. If he doesn't appear at the meeting, we can issue a subpoena for his appearance at that meeting.
AUD: We don't want to make this a racist thing, but there is a profile. (There was talk of profiling and black men being just as frightened by the cops—fear of being pulled over for no reason.)
Kaye: I've lived here since 1974 I can't live anywhere else. I opened another biz in the Quarter. It's been hard since K. Brother robbed at gunpoint at one point. From a biz person's standpoint any banner will HURT, do irreparable damage to the businesses. Visible patrols, lighting, these things must be done. I will not become a prisoner in our own home. We need to know our neighbors. We need to meet once a month.
AUD: the people in this room need to become leaders for the rest of the city. Crime is killing our city.
AUD: Police need to do their job.
AUD: Question for DA: Can we know when hearings are so we can be a force.
DA: Courtrooms are open. I would encourage that. We are waiting now for the police reports, they will turn them over to us, then we will do our investigation, we will then have 120 days to issue an indictment. You can find out which section of court they're allotted to, if you get a representative to get hold of an ADA. You have a right to follow it from arraignment to sentencing. We want you to be in there supporting us. Often the defendants have a lot of people in the courtrooms, we very much encourage you to get involved and come to the hearings. Sometimes we have to ask citizens to leave while we are choosing jurors, but once that's done you have a right to be in there.
Fielkow: That applies to council meetings also. The silent majority doesn't come. You have to come en masse so when we're talking budget or DA or whatever we can hear what you have to say. We the legislators need to hear from the majority of the city. Come to our meetings and make your voice heard.
Lord David: Texting as crime watch. Activate yourself as individuals. Exchange contact info. I can be contacted at Skull-Club@cox.net. I am collecting stories of NOPD neglect. I've received many in just 72 hours. Please take advantage of our collective.
(sp)Jimmy Delery: I was one who with Harry Anderson put together town hall meetings after K. This is groundhog day for me. We've done this before. Some so full of people that they couldn't get in the place. Let's not walk out of here and forget. If we don't change the management of this police department we can't change anything. We have a great new council and DA. Last night at Aunt Tiki's, 12 police cruisers outside to arrest 2 street musicians. Frenchman St. we can't get one regular policeman down there.
Audience alternately groaned and laughed at the 12 cruisers vs 2 street musicians.
AUD: What can you councilmen do to get us better lighting in the lower end of the Quarter. We gotta get more light below St. Philip St. What can you guys do to get public works to get us better lighting. Warehouse district is well lit.
Carter/Fielkow talking to each other.
Meeting deteriorating into a bitch session.
Back to lighting:
Carter: two different issues, one is the ones that are out, the company that the city commissioned to deal w/lights are in the Quarter every night. Second issue is prioritization, we as a council can prioritize, and it's also a question of money.
Fielkow: if it's a question of resources there's nothing we won't put resources to if it will keep people safe. Stacy Head chair of Public Works. Come to the meeting, come out w/50 people to the Public Works meeting. Alert media that you're doing it. You all have power. Use it.
If it's a money issue we'll allocate what we can, let's get public/private groups to fund, more teamwork, talk to Steve Parry.
AUD: In the last two days I saw lots of cops with their windows down, I said hi and thanked them. The ideal situation would be if they knew who we are and we knew theirs. Make the cops a part of the community.
1:25 Meeting attendance is dwindling.
AUD: Mr. Fielkow we don't feel very powerful. We need to attend meetings to get street lights replaced?
Councilmen and DA have left. News crews have left.
New Orleans Crime Meeting Buffa's