Shared from the 10/30/2016 American Press eEdition

Watchdog group expands into area

Metropolitan Crime Commission setting up shop in Calcasieu

The Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleansarea watchdog group, is expanding into Southwest Louisiana to report on the efficiency of police agencies and the state district court in Calcasieu Parish, the group’s president said.

The 14th Judicial District Criminal Justice Accountability Project will collect data on the area’s criminal justice system, establish benchmarks and track performance, said Rafael Goyeneche, MCC president.

Goyeneche said the project will use the same key indicators of efficiency and performance that the National Center for State Courts uses, including inventory size and the amount of time a case takes to move through the system. He said judges will be compared with their peers and not with those in other jurisdictions.

Goyeneche said reports will also be issued on the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff ’s Office and other arresting agencies, as well as the District Attorney’s Office. Beginning with an examination of the volume of arrests, the reports will examine the outcomes of all felony cases processed in the court, he said.

‘Do I think we have corruption in Southwest Louisiana? Of course we do. Is the response to that always appropriate or complete? Absolutely not.’
STEVE THOMPSON
McNeese State University ethics professor, Metropolitan Crime Commission advisory board member

“We will share the information with the public,” Goyeneche said. “And we will share the findings of our reports to the individual agencies, providing them with information that they didn’t necessarily have before so that they can make more strategic and informed decisions about how to use their resources and better serve the community and make it safer.”

He said the first report will be issued in 10 months to a year.

“But I believe the results, the benefits of it, will start immediately,” Goyeneche said. “We have met with all the criminal justice officials. They know what we are going to be doing and have pledged their cooperation and support to us.”

Steve Thompson, a Mc-Neese State University ethics professor and an MCC advising board member, said the commission will be a “valuable service” to the area. He said its research can “ask questions we need to answer to determine where we stand on effectiveness and efficiency.”

“Right now, those questions are not being asked,” said Thompson, a retired state trooper. He praised the group’s anti-corruption program, which allows people to anonymously report government waste and fraud. Tips can be reported to MCC at 888- 524- 7001 or www.metrocrime.org.

“Do I think we have corruption in Southwest Louisiana? Of course we do. Is the response to that always appropriate or complete? Absolutely not,” Thompson said. “I think that having this avenue to report corruption is extremely valuable.”

The group’s goal is to encourage people to be more engaged in their community and be knowledgeable about the criminal justice system, Goyeneche said.

“Our objective here is to help, not to hinder, to praise and not to criticize,” he said. “But if there is a problem, we will talk about it.”

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