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Just the facts are enough to make Chief Warren Riley look bad: Jarvis DeBerry

Posted on Jan 16, 2010 in Local Issues, NOPD

By Jarvis Deberry January 16, 2010, 5:55AM The movement to discredit Warren Riley continues. Wednesday, on just the 13th day of 2010, New Orleans recorded its 10th homicide. On Thursday, two New Orleans police officers were booked as the result of two separate criminal investigations. One officer is charged with abducting a woman who authorities say was later raped by his partner. The other was arrested for repeatedly discharging his weapon into his personal vehicle. Wonder how much they got paid to make the superintendent of the Police Department look bad? As for this year's murderers, wonder who rounded them up and advised that by shooting and killing other people, they could accomplish still greater destruction by shooting holes in the police chief's reputation? warrenriley112809.jpgJohn McCusker / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Police Superintendent Warren RileyWe are compelled to ask these questions because during a recent radio interview Superintendent Riley brought attention to the "shadow government" that he says is working hard to make both him and Mayor Ray Nagin look bad. Despite appearances to the contrary, Riley suggests, the New Orleans Police Department is quite the accomplished and well-managed crime-fighting organization. It's just that damned shadow government that's brainwashing the public and providing for them a distorted view of the city's leadership. People who believe that the Police Department can't catch criminals on the street or keep them off the force -- have merely fallen for the okie doke. When what they ought to be doing is listening to Riley explain the existence of sinister forces. "There are certainly people in city government and leadership positions who are incompetent, who are blatantly racists, who have done everything they could to make this administration fail," he said. Last month the New Orleans Crime Coalition released a poll revealing that only 33 percent of people in New Orleans say they are satisfied with the performance of the Police Department. When the poll was released, Riley said his department had been making improvements over the previous year, but conceded that the satisfaction rates were "far too low, certainly not acceptable." "We still have major challenges," he said, "and we still have a long way to go." But in the radio interview Jan. 6 he said that the poll was part of the elaborate plot against him. The New Orleans Crime Coalition announced the poll's findings Monday, Dec. 7. Candidates for the Feb. 6 municipal election began qualifying that Wednesday. Get it? The aim was to throw cold water on any idea Riley may have had of running for political office. It was for that same reason that this newspaper published negative stories about him and his department. Riley had already made it clear in August that he wasn't running for mayor. So it's unclear exactly why he thinks his enemies would have busied themselves with such a plot. But that question isn't as important as why the police superintendent thinks the general public can't be trusted to know how it feels about the Police Department and the prevalence of crime. Sometimes things are just as they appear to be. Sometimes the public says it's dissatisfied with the Police Department because murders happen on an almost daily basis. Sometimes the public says it's dissatisfied because officers on the force are being accused of committing crimes that include preying on the public. Officer Thomas Clark was indicted Thursday on a count of second-degree kidnapping. His partner Henry L. Hollins was indicted in November after a grand jury determined that Hollins handcuffed a woman at gunpoint and later raped her as she remained shackled. Problem officers are often turned over to prosecutors by the Police Department's Public Integrity Bureau. But not this time. Clark was indicted after the Orleans Parish district attorney's office conducted its own investigation. It's fair to ask why the Police Department itself hadn't determined that he was a problem. Officer Patrick O'Hern was also arrested Thursday after he allegedly fired a weapon multiple times into his personal vehicle. Who knows why he did it. But it's unlikely anybody's going to believe that he did it in a plot to make Riley look bad. There doesn't need to be a plot. Riley looks bad simply because his department does. Jarvis DeBerry can be reached at jdeberry@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3355. Follow him at http://connect.nola.com/user/jdeberry/index.html and at twitter.com/jarvisdeberrytp.

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