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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

No More Failed Policies

We need a sheriff who is anti-crime and protects the victims of crimes, not criminals

The sheriff’s election in Caddo Parish next month should be a referendum on a revolving-door justice system where police officers are vilified and criminals are coddled.

Instead, for too many voters, it’s become an election rooted in racial division, evoking unneeded emotions from a repugnant past, which won’t make our parish any safer or our future any brighter.

Rather than unifying the community around ideas, Henry C. Whitehorn Sr.’s campaign appears to be dividing the parish in the most uncivilized, elementary and ignorant way — by skin color. Arguably, it’s the path of least resistance for his campaign handlers — an end-run around any meaningful dialogue with voters — to avoid a substantive debate.

But why debate your plans for public safety before the voters — and spend all your time and energy convincing them that you have the better “mousetrap” — if you can point to some immutable characteristic (like skin color) and call it a day?

It’s akin to Joe Biden saying to podcaster Charlamagne tha God in 2020, “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” Right — as if Black voters aren’t independent thinkers with beliefs as diverse as our country?

So, for those voters who insist on voting based on skin color (presumably because of what Whitehorn can do for the Black community), the logical question is, “What exactly will Whitehorn do as sheriff?” As economist Thomas Sowell once wrote, “If there is any lesson in the history of ideas, it is that good intentions tell you nothing about the actual consequences.”

Take Whitehorn calling for bail reform in Caddo Parish, for example. Bail reform, or eliminating cash bail, has generally increased crime rates in nearly every jurisdiction nationwide. New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and LA — the result is always more crime.

One study concluded that individuals released on zero bail were subsequently re-arrested for 163 percent more crimes than those released on bail.

That’s not the half of it, though. In New York City, for example, before instituting bail reform, Black people were 5.3 times more likely to be held in jail than white people. But after essentially eliminating cash bail in New York City that disparity grew to Black people being 6.2 times more likely to be held in jail than white people.

Many believe this increase is due to people being re-arrested repeatedly but for more serious crimes (because they were not being detained for lower level offenses due to the elimination of bail).

Bail reform appears to be Whitehorn’s “silver bullet” to solve the overcrowding issue at Caddo Correctional Center. But by releasing habitual offenders — those determined to break the law — don’t you incentivize criminal behavior? Of course you do, and the impact is felt no more greatly than in the Black community.

In Dallas, for example, 91 percent of their murder victims in the city are either Black or Latino; 90 percent of their domestic violence, aggravated assault victims are Black or Latino; 85 percent of their aggravated assault victims, non-family violence are Black or Latino; 85 percent of their robbery victims are Black and Latino. As you can tell, the victims of crime are concentrated in minority communities, but with bail reform, they are also largely forgotten.

If you take an honest look at the data — the increases in crime, the victims of those crimes and the location of the most violent crimes — the connection is quite clear that what Whitehorn is suggesting will not make our parish safer. Regardless of intentions, the actual consequences of bail reform will make Caddo Parish more dangerous.

The police chief in Houston is dealing with the same issue. He says, “We cannot allow violent offenders time after time to commit violent crimes and we’re letting them out,” adding that we ought to pay “much more attention to the impact felt by the victims of crimes.”

And again, where do those victims tend to live? In predominantly minority neighborhoods.

In New Jersey, a mother whose son was shot 22 times by a man who was released from jail without bond sued the state for passing the bail reform law in the first place. She said that the state should have known, after all that New Jersey’s disproportionately “high number of Black defendants would return to predominantly Black neighborhoods when released.” And she lost her son as a result.

You see, we need a sheriff who is more focused on public safety than racial division; more concerned with the impact of crimes on victims, not the criminals; with being the sheriff for all, not just for some who agree with him; a sheriff willing to stand before the people and answer the tough questions, not hide and mislead the voters; someone who respects the rule of law, as the chief law enforcement officer in the parish; a sheriff that protects his deputies and doesn’t make their jobs more dangerous; someone that pays attention to the details, and doesn’t go along to get along; someone who isn’t seemingly surrounded by folks mostly looking for a job, instead of how to do the most good for the most people.

For these reasons, John Nickelson should be elected the next sheriff of Caddo Parish. As a Shreveport City Council member, he’s demonstrated the leadership qualities necessary and as an attorney, he knows the very law he will take an oath to uphold as sheriff.

Now is not the time for Caddo Parish to experiment with failed policies or more politics that divide us — or with a sheriff unwilling to give his time to the voters before the election instead of giving excuses by saying, “I don’t know what else it is to talk about.”

There’s a lot to talk about, actually. But if a candidate doesn’t speak with voters before an election, how much does that candidate really care about your vote in the first place?

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.


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