Oct 20, 2023 - Politics

3 crime-fighting ideas from New Orleans' new police chief

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Chelsea Brasted/Axios

Technology and data should be key components in fighting crime in New Orleans, the city's newly minted police chief says.

Driving the news: Anne Kirkpatrick was confirmed Thursday as the superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department.

  • As part of the confirmation process, she presented her plans before the City Council for improving public safety and rebuilding the police force.

The latest: New Orleans has components of a crime-fighting plan, she said, but it "has not yet realized its full potential." She'll be working with her top brass and other partners to create a full, evidenced-based plan.

1. GPS darts for car chases: Some departments use GPS darts in the grills of police units. Instead of chasing someone, officers push a button to shoot the dart at the target vehicle and follow them via a GPS tracker.

  • Drones are also an option for tracking suspected criminals without initiating chases that could injure bystanders and damage property, Kirkpatrick said.

2. Technology to track gunfire: ShotSpotter makes gunshot detection technology that uses sensors to detect and locate gunfire in real time.

  • ShotSpotter could be implemented in New Orleans, Kirkpatrick says, connecting to cameras in the Real Time Crime Center so they would turn, span and zoom when a shot is fired.
  • New Orleans had ShotSpotter 10 years ago, WWL reports, but it was discontinued when police couldn't demonstrate it helped reduce crime.

3. Operation Ceasefire is a strategy used in several other large cities to reduce gun violence through partnerships with law enforcement agencies and community groups.

  • CeaseFire often targets gang and youth violence and has been used in Chicago, Boston and Oakland, California, to reduce shootings and killings.
  • It has best practices that could make a difference in New Orleans, Kirkpatrick says.

Kirkpatrick laid out her plans to grow the police force and improve employee quality of life.

  • One idea is creating 8-hour shifts in addition to the current 12-hour-shift structure. Plus, she wants to create more flexibility for officers with children.
  • She also wants to recruit more in-state officers to help with "cultural competency" when policing.

Zoom out: A recurring theme during the confirmation hearings was whether Kirkpatrick, as a white woman from Memphis, Tennessee, could understand the nuances of policing a majority-Black city with a distinct culture.

  • "I want to be here in New Orleans," she said before the vote. "If you should confirm me today, I will be all in on everything associated with the safety of this city, to embrace the culture, to embrace the traditions and uphold them."
  • She was met with vocal opposition by community activists at both of her confirmation hearings.
  • She said she's been meeting with community groups and plans to meet with more. She's also been attending church here and plans to expand to other faith-based groups.

The intrigue: Kirkpatrick now holds one of the city's most important and difficult jobs.

  • As an outsider, she will have to earn the trust of the community and the police force.

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