The New Orleans Police Department might return to mandatory 12-hour shifts for patrol officers this summer, the city’s Times-Picayune reports. The return to lengthier shifts, which the department employed late last year for several months, coincides with the traditional summer surge in crime and the possible loss of 360 National Guard soldiers who have helped patrol city streets for the past two years. Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco ordered the Guard into the city after a rash of killings in June 2006, and troops have remained since, aiding the Police Department as it tries to increase its manpower and deal with escalating crime.
The troop phase-out was to begin July 1, but local leaders and citizen groups are pushing Gov. Bobby Jindal to extend the Guard’s stay. Mayor Ray Nagin told Jindal this week that New Orleans needs more time for its police recruiting effort to take root. The NOPD recently launched a two-year, $1.3 million marketing campaign aimed at luring recruits. It has about 1,470 officers. Forty-eight people are enrolled in the academy and are slated to graduate in August.