The Monroe Police Chief said he knew how to handle the violence at Parkview Apartments. Being a former DEA undercover cop, Chief Victor Zordan associated the violence at Parkview with the presence of drug dealers.
But as murders and shootings continue across the city, even as the new year begins, the city’s get-tough approach raises questions about the tactic’s effectiveness.
At his first press conference last year, Chief Zordan served notice on the city’s violent elements in “John Wayne” style. He sent a message to the bad guys that he would be looking for them.
Using his DEA experience, immediately Chief Zordan hooked up with other agencies from several parishes, targeted South Monroe, and put out a dragnet to catch as many violent bad guys as he could.
South Monroe was the target.
South Monroe pedestrians, mostly African-Americans walking the street on Winnsboro Road, were stopped, searched. There were 189 traffic stops, 50 pedestrian stops, and 20 home entries. However, the violent types the cops sought were mostly not present.
Seventy suspects were given tickets for petty offenses, mostly simple possession of marijuana, but not violence.
African-American homes where police suspected violent offenders lived were surrounded and entered through “Knock and Talks” when they had no warrants. They found more marijuana and other substances as well as some legally owned weapons.
His tough-guy debut involved 100 officers from several parishes, helicopters, and heavy arms, nabbed 11 violent felons who had warrants, including one murder suspect from another parish.
The police took twenty firearms in the operation, but not one suspect was charged with illegal possession of a weapon. It’s not unlawful to possess a licensed weapon in Louisiana.
In all, 81 suspects were charged with something, but to pump up the numbers, the operation reported suspects with multiple charges as individual cases and inflated its public report to 120 arrests.
Over sixty people were arrested for petty crimes such as tinted car windows, seat belts, and simple possession of marijuana. The misdemeanor arrests pumped up the arrest numbers, but the violations were so minor that suspects were not jailed but given citations instead.
Zordan coordinated all of the October 22-23rd actions to serve notice on violent criminals that the MPD was coming after them. There was only one problem; most of those arrested were not violent.
He said his department did not target South Side; it focused on areas where its data identified and pointed to high levels of violence and criminal activity.
Of the 81 suspects charged in the October police sweep, all but nine were African-Americans.
Despite the actions, murders and assaults didn’t stop or even decline. On December 23rd, a woman was jailed for attempted murder in a domestic dispute on Winnsboro Road.
On Christmas day, there was a double murder in the 2100 Block of DeSiard Street. A suspect was arrested. Micheal Jacobs, Jr. was charged with two counts of murder in that incident.
For the most part, it’s business as usual.
Chief Zordan told the media that the number of calls for help in Parkview had declined, just days after he began his tough-guy approach.
However, in the ultimate show of disrespect, last month, shots were fired at Monroe Police officers as they stood outside the gate of Parkview Apartments.
Police were ducking and hiding from an unknown shooter as they heard bullets swish by their ears.
The bad guys shot at the cops, and Zordan announced that attacks on cops would not be tolerated. He responded by increasing the police presence in the area even more.
Monday, January 4th, shots were fired at nearby Trichell Apartments. That incident left one person dead and another injured.
Both Monroe police and Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s deputies are investigating the shooting, which occurred Monday night at about 7:30 p.m. in nearby Trichell Apartments, in the 300 Block of Jason Drive.
Both Trichell and Parkview Apartments are owned and operated by Standard Enterprises.
Police say 23-year-old Samarius Colquitt died as a result of wounds in the shooting. The other victim was airlifted to a regional hospital and is in serious but stable condition.
Many people saw the incident, but very few talked to the police. They wouldn’t talk to police, but residents instantly posted videos, photos of victims, and comments on social media.
Monroe Police Chief Zordan believes a high police presence will scare off violent elements. He wants the department to hire more tough military types on the police force. In the interim, the city has worked out a deal in which Standard Enterprise is now hiring off duty cops and Deputies to patrol Parkview and Trichell Apartments.
It’s expensive, but the Turrentine family, the reputed slum lords who own the apartments, is now paying off-duty cops $50 an hour to stop the violence.
Standard Enterprises reportedly rakes in over $1 million a month from the government-subsidized housing units.
Chief Zordan says residents are pleased with the increased police presence.
He said residents have reported that their children feel they can play safely at last. He said the MPD has received many thanks from residents for their presence.
However, the social media posts of Parkview/Trichell residents tell a different story.
Residents say because they live in Parkview does not make them criminals. Like all citizens, they say they want a safe, clean, and secure place to live. However, they say turning Parkview into a prison camp is not the answer.
In their social media posts, residents say the prison-like atmosphere intimidates and stigmatizes all residents. Even after the massive police push, the violence has not ceased. Instead of calling the police to complain or give tips, many are now afraid even to be seen talking to a police officer casually.
In response to the chief’s tough talk, the tough guys pushed back. Last month shots were fired at Monroe police officers on duty at Parkview, and police responded by setting up a command station at Parkview and concentrating more officers and firepower in the area.
No one has been arrested in the shots-fired incident, and no one in the Parkview/Trichell apartments is talking.