NOPD Strategy Affects Arrest Rates for the Better!!

rafael goyeneche

Rafael Goyeneche

New study by Rafael Goyeneche shows dismissals bring down conviction rates. Here’s to Rafael, with another sharp study, badly needed in New Orleans, showing that arrests and conviction rates are dropping a lot. The report is available here.

The number of arrests made by NOPD in NOLA has fallen by 45% over the last two years. That’s very substantial! That saves a ton of money as well, which can be allocated to Diversion, Indigent Defender Fund, and Probation & Parole. All three are overburdened big time.

Still I’d like to congratulate NOPD for cutting down needless arrests, that’s meaningful to me. So the Chief is to be saluted for making some real changes in his Officers’ behavior.  They are focusing on felony arrests, which is an important shift in objectives.

Just for these changes, I’ll bring his mark from D+ to C- for this big shift in priorities. The police have acted and their behavior has changed for the better.

Here’s to you, Chief!!

The sharpest decline came in “other state arrests,” the bulk of which are for out-of-parish warrants, usually for unpaid traffic tickets and other transgressions. Such arrests still account for the highest share of arrests, but they are down to 35 percent of the total from 42 percent a year earlier, the report shows.

That’s still way too much, said Rafael Goyeneche, the commission’s president. He called the pursuit of those arrests “an abject lesson in futility,” given that other parishes often don’t bother to pick up such suspects.

“That is a plus for the criminal justice system. We’re not squandering police man-hours or public dollars,” he said of the trend lines. “There is a recognition that if we’re going to attack our crime problem more strategically, it has to be felony arrests.”

Cannizzaro has pushed to accept far more cases than his predecessors, and he seemed to push particularly hard in the second half of 2010, leading to what now appears as a spike both in the number of felony cases accepted for prosecution and the number of convictions, the report found.

Both gauges fell off in the first half of the year, but the convictions fell harder. All told, Cannizzaro’s office accepted 25 percent fewer cases compared with the previous six months, while winning 42 percent fewer felony convictions, the report found.

The 1,344 convictions — including guilty verdicts from juries and judges as well as plea deals — marked by far the lowest level since Cannizzaro took office.

Some of the declines can be credited to Cannizzaro’s willingness to funnel more defendants into diversion programs. But the 210 diversion cases account for just a fifth of the overall decline in convictions, according to the report.

Another factor in the decline is that Cannizzaro’s office dismissed 20 percent of felony cases in the first half of the year, up from 13 percent in the first half of the year, the report found.

District Attorney Cannizzaro

District Attorney Cannizzaro

The rise in dismissals do not include diversion cases and a push last year by the DA’s office to clear away cases that by law could no longer be prosecuted.

“Something is wrong. Something unusual has happened,” Goyeneche said of the rise in the dismissal rate. “I don’t know if the glut of civil-rights cases has forced them to purge cases (those police officers) were involved in. It could also be some of the decisions being made are problematic.”

The study did not look at how many cases Cannizzaro’s office dismissed and then recharged — a common tactic when judges press the DA’s office to trial when they are not ready, or when key witnesses fail to show. Cannizzaro’s spokesman Christopher Bowman said that may account for some of it.

~ by neworleansmusicman on November 10, 2011.

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