- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:


Oct. 12

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on relations between the police and the community

New Orleanians’ trust in the city’s police department was low after the defections and abuses by officers after Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches. In 2009, the first year the New Orleans Crime Coalition surveyed residents, only 33 percent of people surveyed viewed the police favorably.

Dissatisfaction with NOPD was found across every police district and all races, genders, age groups and education levels, the coalition said in its first report in December 2009.

The results in the latest survey were dramatically better. Overall satisfaction was 64 percent in September. That was up 16 points from a year ago and is the highest rating in the seven years of the survey.

Ratings for the department’s overall competence and officers’ honesty and integrity rose to 68 percent this fall, which also are the highest ratings in the survey’s history.

White and black respondents didn’t vary much in their view of the department. For instance, about 73 percent of white residents and 69 percent of black residents surveyed last month said police do a good job managing tension in the community.

There still is work to be done, though. NOPD lags behind other departments, which typically score no lower than 70 percent on citizen satisfaction reports, the coalition said.

Residents still want to see more improvement. “They’re saying things like ‘It’s getting better. They’re trying,’” coalition chairman Michael Cowan said of residents’ comments about police. “It’s language that indicates they see things moving in a better direction, but not that they’re where they want them to be yet.”

NOPD agreed to a federal consent decree four years ago to reform the department and bring it up to constitutional standards. That is an ongoing process, which is being monitored by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan.

Mr. Cowan attributes the change in residents’ attitudes to improved police training and supervision brought about by the consent decree. The numbers do not appear to be driven by fluctuations in the crime rate.

“They’re being driven by something else, and I think the something else is the perception of citizens that the Police Department is moving in the right direction,” Mr. Cowan said.

In addition to the reforms required under the consent decree, Superintendent Michael Harrison is reaching out to the community.

In June, NOPD held its first “Coffee with Cops” event to allow residents to meet officers who work their neighborhoods. In August, the department expanded the event from four McDonald’s restaurants to eight - one for each NOPD district.

Two days after 43-year-old Sabrina Watson’s body was discovered in a car in

Central City, the superintendent and some of his officers joined an anti-violence march in her honor.

Superintendent Harrison assured marchers that the neighborhood is important to him and asked residents to help patrol officers. “They’re going to need your support more than ever,” he said.

That is true across the city.

Police depend on residents to help them fight crime. They need people to provide tips, report suspicious activity and tell officers what they witnessed at a crime scene. Ultimately, they and prosecutors need residents to be willing to testify.

For their part, residents must be able to depend on police to protect them in every situation.

That belief was shattered after Katrina when some officers opened fire on innocent people on the Danziger Bridge, killing two and severely wounding four others.

Eleven years after the attack, with reforms under way, the department is repairing its relationship with the community. But Superintendent Harrison and his troops need to keep working to strengthen those ties.




Oct. 11

The Advocate on the victims of Hurricane Matthew :

October typically brings the downward slide of hurricane season, as temperatures cool and the prospect for big storms diminishes. But the arrival of Hurricane Matthew along the coast of the southeastern United States was a potent reminder that even in autumn, powerful hurricanes can pop up in the Atlantic and wreak havoc as they reach land.

Matthew was an odd storm in an odd weather year, brushing the Eastern seaboard before threatening to loop back towards Florida. The scenario seemed unlikely, but then again, those of us in south Louisiana have learned that when it comes to weather, what was once considered unthinkable can sometimes become a reality. Last August’s thousand-year flood, which ruined thousands in homes and businesses in south Louisiana, proved that much.

Our hearts go out to Matthew’s victims. In Louisiana, we know all too well the pain of loss from severe weather. The scale of Matthew’s damage underscores the need for a comprehensive federal recovery package for all recent flood victims, whether they live in Louisiana, the southeastern states ravaged by last week’s hurricane, or elsewhere.

That should be the first order of business when Congress reconvenes.




Oct. 11

The Courier of Houma on planning to vote:

The 2016 campaign for president has been a bitterly divisive one for those who have taken sides in the race.

For many who have remained undecided, the choice has become more and more difficult.

Neither of the two major candidates has done much positive campaigning. Instead, with both candidates suffering historically high negative ratings, that’s where the campaigns have focused.

The attacks have come from both sides, and they went into high gear Sunday night during the second presidential debate.

While the attacks may be rallying cries for the partisans who have a candidate, it remains to be seen whether they were effective tools for luring undecided voters one way or the other.

The leaks of emails and audiotapes of the two candidates have likely hurt both in the eyes of voters. And their rude behavior toward one another during the debates hasn’t helped either.

Unfortunately, they have spent little time discussing the specifics of their policies and philosophies. Instead, they have been focused on accusations and defense.

That has made it tough on voters who want to take in as much information as possible and come to a conclusion about which candidate to support.

It has made the job tougher, but that doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to come to an educated decision.

This has already been a rough election season, and it’s just rounding into the home stretch.

With less than four weeks until election day and just one debate left for the candidates to explore the actual issues, the time is getting short for the voters as well.

If you’re still on the fence about whether you want to support either candidate, the state has an extra incentive it hopes will get more people out to the polls.

Secretary of State Tom Schedler announced earlier this week that the “I VOTED” stickers poll workers will give out to people who vote will feature Louisiana artist George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog character. Schedler even said the stickers could become collectors’ items.

“This in my opinion is something that everyone is going to want. I would say it could maybe even be a collector’s item one day, so I wouldn’t throw it away,” Schedler said.

There is still time between now and Nov. 8, but not much time. Use it to learn as much as you can about all the candidates - those running for president as well as those running for the open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.

When you head to the polls on Election Day, you will be glad to be armed with the knowledge you will need.



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