Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Marc H. Morial Biography - Entered Mayoral Race, Curbed Crime In New Orleans, Earned Respect As Mayor And Organization Leader

Marc H. Morial - Curbed Crime In New Orleans

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In the runoff election of March 5, 1994, Morial emerged victorious with 54 percent of the vote. In his victory speech, Morial urged city residents of all ethnicities to come together to work toward the future, declaring, "tomorrow we will start rebuilding the city in the physical sense and the spiritual sense. We don't plan to take a vacation," Jet reported him as saying. Morial also broke with tradition by choosing not to hold the inauguration during the day at City Hall. Instead, he was sworn in during the evening at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, a change that allowed more residents to attend the inauguration. During his first 100 days in office, Morial worked to improve and expand youth programs sponsored by the city's recreation department in order to reduce the high rates of juvenile crime in New Orleans. He recalled that becoming involved as a youth in many city-sponsored recreational programs had kept him out of trouble.

In an attempt to bring the crime rate in New Orleans under control, Morial implemented a controversial "community policing" program and instituted a curfew for all juveniles. Anyone under the age of 17 had to be off the streets after 8 p.m. on weekdays, and by 11 p.m. on weekends. Juveniles who broke the curfew and their parents were required to attend a counseling session and repeat offenders were subject to fines. Two months after the program went into effect, crime during curfew hours decreased by 38 percent, and in the span of three months, the city's overall crime rate dropped over 14 percent.

To address problems within the New Orleans police department, Morial hired a new police chief, put more officers on the street, gave the force pay increases, and moved the citizen-complaint department out of a police precinct building. By the end of 1995, reported Mary-Margaret Larmouth in Nation's Cities Weekly, New Orleans' murder rate had dropped 18 percent, and civil-rights complaints against police officers also dropped by 30 percent. During Morial's first term in office, the crime statistics continued to plummet: the murder rate fell from a high of 424 in 1994 to 266 in 1997. At the city's housing projects, people began using the picnic tables and playgrounds again. New York Times reporter Bragg also wrote that young residents of one the city's most crime-plagued housing projects no longer slept on the floor because of stray bullets.

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