Violence, drug overdoses and suicide attempts have long plagued the New Orleans prison, which must be a very bad place to work.
Indeed, while running the prison is Sheriff Susan Hutson’s primary responsibility, her deputies evidently consider being assigned to work there as a form of punishment. One of those deputies, Greg Malveaux, was presumably the last to see things that way when Hutson pulled him in as a bodyguard for Council member Helena Moreno and told him to report for slammer duty.
Malveaux was suspected of stalking and filming Mayor LaToya Cantrell when she was allegedly using a Pontalba apartment for private purposes, but he was soon released and returned to Moreno’s side.
All council members have a deputy to keep them safe, while Cantrell ranks a full-fledged New Orleans Police Department officer for this purpose. With the NOPD and Sheriff’s Office seriously underpowered and operating under consent decrees, it’s certainly time to consider whether pampering politicians is a legitimate use of the law enforcement dollar.
Mayors of other cities in the United States receive bodyguards at taxpayer expense, but council members generally do not. They get along well without them in Jefferson Parish and Baton Rouge.
If City Council members feel nervous on the streets of New Orleans, their constituents will certainly sympathize, because they likely do too. In the murder capital of America, we could all wear a personal protector.
It may be that politicians feel particularly vulnerable and fear that citizens outraged by some legislation will vent. But any apprehensions on the part of board members can also encourage them to curb their crazy tendencies.
How often does a council member need to be rescued by a bodyguard? It never seems to happen, which suggests that security budget money could be better spent elsewhere. Board members probably have an exaggerated idea of how much public attention they garner. They’re not exactly rock stars.
They will not lose their meek deputies unless they take the initiative themselves, and such a self-sacrificing ordinance is not in the nature of the politician.
The board members, however, are keen to avoid any wastage of money by others, as demonstrated in their determination to ensure that Cantrell gives the city back the $30,000 she spent on illicit plane upgrades. She initially refused but now says she will comply.
Cantrell is not only willing to squander taxpayers’ money, but evidently considers herself a rock star. Her habit, when she travels in this country or abroad, has been to ride at the front in splendid isolation, leaving her entourage to ruin life in the carriage.
On a trip to Washington last year, her NOPD bodyguard Robert Monlyn joined her in first class. Few police officers receive such lavish treatment; deputies who take care of councilors must be green with envy.
By spending so much time in foreign places where no one will recognize her on the street, Cantrell certainly reduces the risk of running into an injured voter. She’s also tried to justify her preference for premium seats as a safety measure rather than self-indulgence, though that has always been the most perplexing of excuses.
If there was any risk involved in traveling internationally, it might make more sense to stay at home with your security guards close by. New Orleans could certainly do without a mayor flying to France and Switzerland to sign sister city agreements while car thieves roam our streets.
Email James Gill at [email protected]