THE (FANTASY) LIFE OF RILEY

 Wed, 03 Jun 2009 05:00:19

Someone in NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley’s family must have encouraged him to dream big reach for the stars and all that inspirational hokum. Unfortunately Chief Riley has an alarming tendency to confuse dreams with delusions. Last weekend I was gobsmacked to read that Riley is contemplating running for Mayor. LINK. My initial response was to laugh like a deranged hyena and make jokes about Riley spending too much time in the evidence room. I stopped laughing when I realized that it’s part of a pattern of Nagin-like self-delusion on the part of Riley.

Warren Riley is an unpopular and ineffective police chief running a department that has never recovered from its Katrina trauma. And make no mistake about it: the cops here were traumatized and their leader is a bureaucrat who is as inspirational as a CPA. It’s one of the reasons NOPD is the demoralized mess that it is today.  
 
Chief Riley is now contemplating applying his modest leadership abilities to politics. If he decides to run it won’t be Riley’s first attempt: he lost a race for Sheriff to Marlin Gusman. He ran of course as C Ray’s man and that’s how a run for Mayor would be seen as well. If you like Ray Nagin you’ll love Warren Riley. How’s that for a losing slogan y’all?
 
The last thing New Orleans needs is another Mayor who will surround himself with yes men and overreact to criticism. Warren Riley is just such a man: as his recent dealings with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro make obvious. The Judge is not one to lash out at someone publicly before making the same criticisms off-stage. Indeed Judge Cannizzaro’s complaints about slow arriving (and badly written) police reports and cops not showing up for court have been made by his predecessors. Riley’s response has been indignation and pettiness. He’s always right because he says he is. Hmm where have we heard that before?
 
The latest petty move by Chief Riley involves NOPD Captain Jeff Winn. LINK.  I’m oversimplifying things but what’s wrong with a bit of oversimplification among friends? Here we go: Winn received some good publicity in the aftermath of Katrina and the flood. That in turn made Riley jealous and he began working to damage Winn by using his bureaucratic skills bury Winn and end his career. But Winn has proven to be a resourceful adversary. Riley dispatched him to the DA’s office as punishment but Winn has done such a good job that Riley has reassigned him in a fit of pique at both the Captain and the Judge. Way to go Chief.
 
Back to Riley’s most recent dispute with Judge Cannizzaro. They have profound philosophical differences. The Judge is a big picture man who wants more detectives so that his office can focus like a laser beam on the most violent offenders by clearing as many cold homicide cases as possible. Riley like the fictional Baltimore police chief in The Wire wants bodies on the street and dope on the table as I pointed out a few years back in this post. Chief Riley seems to believe that by asserting that things are getting better crime-wise they are. It’s another delusion masquerading as a dream which sums up Warren Riley’s tenure as police chief quite nicely.
 
Breaking: Riley has cleared the cops involved in the dubious shooting of Adolph Grimes in Treme on New Year’s Eve. LINK. The officers involved will remain on desk duty pending the results of a federal investigation. Hopefully the feds know the difference between facts and wishful thinking; something Warren Riley has never mastered.
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