Criminal Justice
 

Anxious Algiers residents seek answers to crime day after Samaritan killed in carjacking

By Kelsey Foster, The Lens contributing writer |

A day after a good Samaritan was shot and killed while trying to stop a carjacking in Algiers Point, a beefed-up police presence was evident in the usually quiet West Bank neighborhood, as police cars trolled the streets and a helicopter circled above.

But the efforts of the New Orleans Police Department weren’t enough to calm the nerves of Algiers residents who met at the International School of Louisiana tonight to discuss what can be done to remedy a perceived spike in crime and absence of officers.

More than 300 people attended a town hall meeting on crime tonight in Algiers. Photo by Kelsey Foster

City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas and 4th District Commander Heather Kouts heard concerns from more than 300 community members, many of whom shared their dissatisfaction with what they say is a meager police presence.

Kouts stressed that there are 80 officers assigned to the area of the 4th District that includes Algiers Point.

“It was not for lack of patrol this happened,” she said of Wednesday’s homicide, which claimed the life of Harry “Mike” Ainsworth. His killer is still at large.

Serpas said the average response time for a violent crime in the Algiers Point area is nine minutes, a statistic the community met with doubt and anger.

Earlier today, the NOPD responded to questions from The Lens by releasing Ainsworth’s arrest record, falling in line with Serpas’ practice of releasing the records of homicide victims.

“We put these things to the public so we can understand the gravity of the case,” Serpas said.

The FBI is helping the NOPD homicide detectives assigned to the case, Kouts said.

City officials addressed residents' concerns, including, from left, Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer, 4th District Commander Heather Kouts and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas. Photo by Kelsey Foster

She said that that earlier today, a community member called about a juvenile carrying a gun, and that led to an arrest. This, she said, is evidence that the citizens and the police are working together.

One speaker, Ainsworth’s mother, said the community could be doing much more to help.

“Y’all have a lot of complaints about the police department my son loved. Two children had to give a composite [sketch] of the man that killed their father. Not one of you stepped forward. You are the answer, not the police department,” she said.

Kouts said that Algiers Point saw 13 violent crimes last year, two of which were homicides from domestic disputes. Overall, crime in area dropped 7 percent last year, she said.

“We’re not the department you want us to be,” Serpas said, “but we will be.”

 

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