For the past decade, New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass said his officers have tried to get a handle on crime by operating in what he calls “arrest mode”: focusing on arresting criminals rather than building relationships with residents who live daily with murders and drug deals, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. As violent crime, including murders, has continued to rise, it’s become apparent that this approach hasn’t worked well, he said.
Things are about to change. In a new initiative developed by Compass and his command staff, crime-fighting techniques they say have resulted in more headaches for citizens than hard time for criminals will be history. “We’ve been in arrest mode for 10 years, and the murder rate hasn’t changed,” Compass said. There have been 13 more murders so far this year than in the same time period in 2004. “We’re changing the whole mantra of the Police Department,” he said. “Service will now be our top priority.” Police no longer will enforce roadblocks, wear military-style fatigues, or focus on trying to write municipal tickets. The roadblocks, which needed 12 to 14 officers to man, would net a few arrests but caused unnecessary frustration and inconvenience to the law-abiding residents stopped, Compass said. “We would stop 250 people and get two” criminals, Compass said. “We’d be stopping mothers with children, doctors, people on their way to work. We realize now that we have to meet the community halfway.” Compass hopes to cut the time residents wait for calls of service to five minutes or fewer. Now, residents wait as long as 30 minutes for response to nonemergency calls.