Given the decline in the rule of law in New Orleans over the course of the time Mitch Landrieu has been the city’s mayor, a decline occurring in no small part due to a consent decree imposed on the city’s police force thanks to “reforms” Landrieu bargained with the Obama administration’s Justice Department, few would counsel other cities follow the same path the Big Easy did with the NOPD in the earlier years of this decade.
And yet that’s precisely what’s on offer from our Alinskyite friends at Together Baton Rouge, who have hired the former police chief in New Orleans to “consult” with them on how to advise Baton Rouge’s mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome as to her selection of a new top cop.
Together Baton Rouge wants to conduct its own vetting process for candidates to become the city’s next police chief and plans to hire former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas as a consultant to help with the effort.
The non-profit organization’s leaders say questioning the leading candidates in private meetings will help them gauge which are the most likely to pursue police reforms sought by Together Baton Rouge.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has set up a committee with broader base of participants that is vetting the eight remaining candidates for the chief job through public interviews. The committee will recommend the top five candidates for personal interviews with Broome after a Dec. 7 public comment forum, at which Together Baton Rouge says it plans to present the findings of its own review of police chief candidates.
The private meetings planned by Together Baton Rouge came to light through an email sent out by one of the group’s members, Jennifer Carwile, who also sits on Broome’s committee.
Carwile advised members of Together Baton Rouge in the email that the organization intends to hold private meetings on Dec. 4 and a planning meeting on Dec. 6, where a report to be prepared by a consultant will be presented.
The consultant, Serpas, who served as the police chief in New Orleans from 2012 until 2014, currently teaches criminal justice at Loyola University New Orleans and serves on several national law enforcement organizations.
“To help make an informed selection, (Together Baton Rouge) will be meeting with the top contenders and a consultant who specialized in police chief selections,” Carwile said in the email. “The consultant will then make his recommendations to us and we will use that information during the public commentary.”
Serpas was hired to implement the NOPD’s “reforms” under the consent decree, and under his watch the police force in New Orleans shrunk by a quarter. Crime in the city didn’t exactly shrink accordingly, and while the city’s murder rate largely held steady over the three years he ran the police force the NOPD’s abysmal clearance rate of the murders also held steady. And by the time Serpas left office amid a cloud of scandal over a police shooting that went unreported for months, murders were back on the rise. By last year New Orleans had regained its place as the murder capital of America – though Baton Rouge is now challenging the Big Easy for those honors.
Not to mention that by Serpas’ ouster as NOPD’s police chief the department’s morale had declined into dangerous territory.
You’d think, if Together Baton Rouge was interested in a police chief who could make the streets safer, they’d be hiring consultants from places where the police are successful in solving and fighting crime. But that isn’t what Together Baton Rouge is interested in – they’re interested in keeping the police from inconveniencing the criminals, and now we know the NOPD’s “Not Our Problem, Dude” mantra is the new playbook.
We know this because in January, Together Baton Rouge put out a “study” which claimed the Baton Rouge Police Department was racist for having made many more drug arrests in majority-black North Baton Rouge than in majority-white South Baton Rouge, despite what Together Baton Rouge claims is a uniform amount of drug abuse throughout the city – a premise which somehow went unchallenged by the major media in town. BRPD’s response was the obvious; that what accounts for the disparity is a significant difference in the amount of phone calls they received, and it turns out that the beleaguered law-abiding residents of North Baton Rouge call the cops with much higher regularity to remove the crack dealers from the street corners than the folks in South Baton Rouge do. Why is that? Because there are very few crack dealers in South Baton Rouge.
Ordinary people have little trouble understanding this material. These people aren’t ordinary.
We also know Together Baton Rouge isn’t interested in making the city’s streets safer because they said so in the context of their involvement in this search…
After the group’s most recent meeting on reform topics, Together Baton Rouge members decided that they needed to push for a new chief who would support reform, Carwile said.
“What we really just want to make sure is because we were not able to do a national search is that we are able to (identify) someone who is truly reform minded and that’s difficult when you’re looking at the local population,” Carwile said. “… It can be difficult to change things and buck the system.”
“That’s difficult when you’re looking at the local population” is a fun little statement, no? One wonders what that’s supposed to mean. We took it to mean that the mouth-breathing conservatives in the southern part of town who demand the cops fight crime rather than promote social justice stand in the way of “reform,” but maybe it’s just an admission that the criminals in North Baton Rouge will respond to hug-a-thug police tactics by committing more crimes. Either way, it’s difficult to see how Together Baton Rouge’s involvement in police matters will be anything but destructive.
And yet we have Together Baton Rouge members on Broome’s committee choosing the police chief – which should be troubling, because if Broome intends to drag the Baton Rouge Police Department down into the condition the NOPD is in, no one in town will be safe.
Broome’s chief administrative officer Darryl Gissel, asked about all this, was evasive…
Asked about Together Baton Rouge’s plans to do its own candidate interviews, Broome’s chief administrative officer, Darryl Gissel, issued a statement saying, “Together Baton Rouge is a private organization which has the right to do as it chooses.”
He added, “The mayor has insisted that the selection process she established be open and transparent. The decision to participate in Together Baton Rouge’s meeting is at the sole discretion of the applicants for the job of police chief.”
Gissel also said that “Together Baton Rouge is welcome to participate in the public comment process and share any information with the committee that they believe will be helpful.”
Pardon us for being unsatisfied with that denial. Maybe what’s needed is an investigation of just how much involvement Together Baton Rouge really has in the search for a new Baton Rouge police chief.