Crime & Safety,
January 5th, 2012
By Julie Dermansky
In 2011, there were 199 murders in the Big Easy. One of those killed the week before Christmas was Keira “Pooh Bear” Holmes, a little girl just days shy of her second birthday, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet during a barrage of gunfire at her housing project playground. New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas blamed the justice system’s revolving door, which allows criminals to return to the streets all too easily.
For five nights last week, I rode along with New Orleans police officer David DeSalvo to see what was going on. DeSalvo is 23 and has been on the job for two years. He acknowledges that he has locked up some of the same people twice, but he tries not to worry about the parts of the process he can’t control. Instead, he prides himself on confiscating guns — 21 of them, to be exact, since April, when he began working with the 5th District Power Squad, a specialized unit that has been highly effective in patrolling the city’s toughest neighborhoods.