July 18, 2013
Lt. Frank Young began the meeting, explaining that Commander Bardy was unable to attend due to a simultaneous PCAB (Police Citizen Advisory Board) meeting with several district commanders. He also explained that the meeting would be short due to a Trayvon Martin vigil being held tonight as well. He said he did not anticipate any violence at the vigil.
There were about 14 people in attendance, including citizens, a representative from a neighborhood security organization, Robert Morris from the Uptown Messenger, and several officers. Cameras from channel 4 news were also present.
Lt. Young explained that the meeting would mostly focus on the recent spat of armed robberies in the district, as that is of the most concern to police and citizens involved. He went through each of the robberies, explaining what happened and where they are in their investigations:
7/17/13, 9:40 am, a woman in her sixties visiting friends from out of town was robbed at gunpoint in the 1200 block of Harmony Street near Camp. A witness saw the car and described it as a new black Kia with a temporary license tag in the window and a red Ray Brandt dealer plate. Police are looking for the vehicle.
7/14/13, 4:30 am, a man returned home in the 2300 block of Magazine to find two men waiting for him. He was ordered into his home and robbed. Lt. Young reported this incident is under investigation, and may not have been a random act.
7/12/13, a woman leaving Zea restaurant was robbed in the 1600 block of Terpsichore by a man with a knife, who took her purse. The police do have video of the incident.
(three incidents) 7/10/13, around 11 pm, three men, one with a baseball bat, robbed three separate individuals within a 40 minute period. The robberies took place on Clio, Annunciation and Coliseum streets. One victim was beaten so severely he had to be hospitalized and have head surgery. Police apprehended the perpetrator with the bat, identified as Keith Williams, thanks to the help of witnesses who reported the incident immediately. They have video surveillance and potentially DNA evidence from the bat, and are hoping to identify the other two perpetrators as well. The men were stealing cell phones, particularly iphones.
7/8/13, 11:15 pm, a man was hit in the head with a gun and robbed by two men in the 2500 block of Magazine Street. Police have video of the suspects.
7/8/13, 9 pm, a man who had just parked his car near Clio and Carondolet was attacked by two men who punched him and stole the car, a white Ford Focus. The car was later recovered on Calais Street in New Orleans East.
7/7/13, 3 am, a woman robbed at gunpoint at Annunciation and Thalia.
Lt. Young also described an incident in which a 90 year old man was robbed in central city. He was forced into a car, his wallet was stolen, and he was returned to the area he’d been taken from. Young reported that the man’s clothing might yield dna evidence that would help find the perpetrator.
Lt. Young stated that despite this recent spike, the 6th district is still down in armed robberies 45% from last year. Besides the three incidents involving the three men and the baseball bat, he does not see any connections between the robberies. He is redirecting officers to patrol the Garden District, Lower Garden District and surrounding areas. He is also in contact with the Garden District Patrol in an attempt to coordinate efforts. “We need all the help we can get,” he stated.
Lt. Young also described a recent example of a citizen seeing suspicious activity and not reporting it, only to learn later that his information could have prevented a crime. “Never feel like you’re wasting our time,” Lt. Young said. “Please call!”
A citizen in attendance asked about a recent increase in the homeless population under the I10 overpass between Magazine and Camp. Lt. Young stated he would check into it. The same citizen asked for more mounted police in the areas where armed robberies have been occurring. Lt. Young and Sgt Danny Scanlan explained that horses cannot be used in the summer months due to the heat. Lt. Young reiterated that she would see an increased presence.
Lt. Young stated that narcotics are always a concern as well, and invited a narcotics detective to answer questions from those in attendance. Individuals described areas of concern in their neighborhood, and the detective met with them after the meeting to obtain more information.
I asked Lt. Young if there was anything else of concern we might not have noticed due to the spike in armed robberies. He said no, other than an increase in theft of porch furniture and other items left outside such as grills, shutters, and even architectural pieces attached to houses and copper gutters. The narcotics detective stated that he has been attending meetings throughout the city and that everyone is reporting these types of thefts.
Lt. Young reiterated as he closed the meeting that he believes this recent rash of armed robberies is a spike and will not be an ongoing increase. He maintains that the majority of violent crimes are committed by a small number of people, and that the NOPD has collected enough video and DNA evidence that they are hopeful about catching those responsible.