The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


The Student News Site of Dillard University


    Councilman eyes law enforcement post

    New Orleans city councilman for District D, Marlin N. Gusman, is working hard in the race for Orleans Parish criminal sheriff.

    Gusman hopes to defeat New Orleans Police Department Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley in the Nov. 2 run-off election.

    In the Sept. 18 primary election, Gusman led the race with 34 percent of the votes, while Riley closely followed with 30 percent.

    The criminal sheriff is responsible for a $60 million budget, 1,100 employees and 6,000 inmates in the Orleans Parish Prison, the eighth largest prison in the country. The office has not been up for grabs in 25 years. Gusman compared the prison to being a "warehouse" and believes that it is a bigger issue than education.

    Councilman Gusman and his supporters believe that he is "The most completely qualified candidate for criminal sheriff."

    "I know the law," said Gusman. "I practiced in all the courts and I’ve served in the executive branch as the chief administrative officer, the legislative as councilman, and judicial as a lawyer."
    Under the leadership of former Mayor Marc Morial, Gusman was the chief administrative officer. For six years, he played a key leadership role in restructuring the New Orleans Police Department with Chief Richard Pennington. As CAO, he was also responsible for managing a large operation and overseeing its budget.

    "The New Orleans Police Department was under my authority. I increased the size of the public integrity division and abolished the internal affairs division. I also relocated the Municipal Training Academy to handle more classes," Gusman said.

    Gusman also cut the crime rate in half and managed a $500 million budget.

    Prior to serving as CAO and being elected to the New Orleans City Council in October 2000, Gusman, at 29, was one of the youngest department heads appointed to serve the City of New Orleans. He served as Director of Property Management from 1984 to 1986, and as Director of the Office of Minority Business Development.

    As criminal sheriff, Gusman would implement intensive case management. His approach would include psychological and educational testing for prisoners and partnerships with private industry to secure jobs for newly released prisoners.

    "I believe that you have to attack crime at the root causes. The best thing that I can do as sheriff is to reduce the recidivism rate so that inmates would not become repeat offenders," said Gusman. "I want them to learn and be productive."

    "This race is important because we have too many of our city locked up now," Gusman said in a speech at the Holiday Inn Select after the Sept. 18 primary election.

    To further tackle the problem of crime, Gusman, an active church member, also favors the intervention of religious leaders in young people’s lives and drug counseling. He wants to build a church within the prison complex.

    "It is important to have a worship facility or church so that inmates can develop spiritual health and healing. It would make those involved in prison ministries feel more comfortable about coming to minister to the inmates," said Gusman.

    Gusman does not agree with Riley’s plan to promote as many as 200 deputies from jailer positions to help the NOPD on the streets. He argues that there are not enough jailers for inmates. In Orleans Parish, the jailer-inmate ratio is 1-17. The national average is a 1-5 ratio.

    "It is two different jobs and requires different skill sets. You would be taking 20 percent of the organization that takes care of the jail and place them in the streets. Deputies do not get the same salaries as jailers. You would place the jail in a dangerous situation," he said.

    With the endorsement of Mayor Ray Nagin and Councilman Oliver Thomas, Riley has also challenged Gusman to three televised debates. Two debates were held before the Sept. 18 primary and the last one was held at the Southern University at New Orleans.

    Gusman has the support of City Councilmembers Eddie Sapir, Jay Batt, Renee Gill Pratt, Jackie Clarkson, Cynthia Willard Lewis, AFL-CIO, The Alliance For Good Government, the LIFE and COUP organizations, The Democratic Party of New Orleans and interim Criminal Sheriff William "Bill" Hunter.

    Hunter told The Times-Picayune that he chose to endorse Gusman because Gusman’s management training and background are "more appropriate for the task of running what is an enormously complex operation."

    In The Times-Picayune, the Riley camp implied that Hunter’s decision to endorse Gusman was based on political pressure and future paychecks.

    Political independence is part of Gusman’s platform. He is determined to abide by another slogan, which is "A Proven Record, Independent, and New Ideas for a Safer Future."

    One of his campaign ads states "he is controlled by no one and will keep this important office free of political meddling."

    "I am independent. My top priority is to be open and transparent to the public," said Gusman.

    Part of his plan is to place an independent monitor whose responsibility would be to review and oversee changes and complaints tat increase efficiency of prison operation. There would also be a detailed budget, which would be presented to the city council and discussed openly with the community.

    His hard work and willingness to bring about change as a candidate for criminal sheriff can be traced back to being a youth in New Orleans.

    As the son of a New Orleans letter carrier and one of five brothers, Gusman attended Jesuit High School and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Bachelor of Science degree in Insurance from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania.

    "I had hardworking parents who emphasized that education was critical to success. It is important to give back to the community," he said.

    Gusman is a graduate of the Loyola University New Orleans School of Law and the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives.

    He is also an active member in the New Orleans community. He is a St. James Major Catholic Church lector and a member of the St. Mary’s Dominican High School Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Orleans Levee District Board of Commissioners. Gusman has worked with the Junior Achievement Project Business, the Chamber of New Orleans, and the River Region Regional Leadership Institute Class of 2000.

    Gusman hopes that his education and experience in serving the City of New Orleans will make him the best candidate for Orleans Parish criminal sheriff.

    "We need to have a safe and secure prison," said Gusman. "We have to do something to intervene in the lives of inmates."

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to Courtbouillon

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Dillard University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to Courtbouillon

    Comments (0)

    All Courtbouillon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Activate Search
    Councilman eyes law enforcement post