Black homicides in Jefferson Parish
Sheriff Harry Lee said he's ready to take "extreme" measures to curb Jefferson Parish's highest homicide rate since at least 1980, including using video cameras _ some in armored vehicles _ to monitor streetcorner groups and the license plates of cars that travel through targeted areas.
Lee, who last month prompted outrage by suggesting his deputies could randomly question young black men gathered in high-crime areas, said he expects his latest plan to offend some people. But added, "I don't give a damn."
"We will go right up to the line," Lee told a news conference.
So far this year there have been 53 homicides in Jefferson Parish, an 83 percent increase over this time in 2005. Lee said he expects the figure to top 60 by year's end. Most of the victims and the alleged killers are black, sheriff's deputies said. About 45 percent of the killings are drug-related.
Lee said he's frustrated by the growing number of killings, a problem he believes has spread to Jefferson from neighboring New Orleans. That city, which has less than half its pre-Katrina population, had recorded 140 homicides _ also mostly black-on-black _ as of Tuesday afternoon, a police spokesman said.
In Jefferson, Lee's plan includes mounting cameras in armored vehicles and patrol cars, as well as positioning them in high-crime areas. The images would go to a master tape, so, Lee said, "we know who's there."
Lee said he doesn't plan to target blacks, but "bad guys." "If I step on somebody's toes," he said, "so be it."
Jefferson Parish Sheriff is abandoning an idea he had to stop young black men in high crime neighborhoods after complaints from the NAACP