NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell appeared on ABC’s GMA3 Tuesday morning to talk about the city’s skyrocketing crime rates and the recently-appointed title of Murder Capital of the World. However, her comments about the DA’s involvement, or lack thereof, in bringing offenders to justice have stirred up controversy.
In an interview with T.J. Holmes, Cantrell talked about the manpower shortage facing the NOPD and efforts to recruit new officers to the department. She also pointed to the reassignment of officers from desk duties to street patrol as another step that the city is taking to fight violence.
When pressed to explain why the city’s murder rate continues to climb, the mayor put much of the blame on the District Attorney’s office and the effects of the pandemic on the city’s court system.
“We had zero jury trials for over two years,” Cantrell explained. “We had an issue with our District Attorney… relaxing cases or not even accepting cases. We had courts close, as I mentioned. But we also had the impact of COVID-19.”
In response to the interview, DA Jason Williams fired back at the mayor, defending the work his office has done since April 2021. According to a statement, the DA’s Office has accepted:
- 89% of murder cases
- 76% of manslaughter cases
- Nearly 70% of robberies
This includes five cases (our homicides and one rape) that Williams has tried himself, all resulting in a conviction. The DA claims that only now as the mayor is under threat of a recall effort is work being done in the criminal justice system. Here’s what the DA’s Office had to say:
“It’s not clear what the Mayor means when she refers to the DA’s office ‘relaxing,’ but days at the DA’s Office have been far from relaxed. Her statement on GMA3 reflects a lack of clear understanding of the criminal legal system. Public safety is a group lift and requires a government-wide investment of time and resources.
“Shortly after DA Williams took office in January 2021, we crafted a CEA with the City that would have funded a multi-agency law enforcement effort aimed at tackling gang violence, but it sat on the Mayor’s desk unsigned, without explanation. Since the beginning of the current crime surge late last year, we have been ringing the alarm for increased funding to our office and to NOPD that would allow us to surge back, but only now in the fall of 2022 has a funding plan taken shape, after this recall petition.”Office of New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams
Watch highlights of the mayor’s interview in the player above.