New Orleans police chief Warren Riley told a congressional panel yesterday that the city cannot attract recruits with his department still struggling for the basics almost 20 months after Hurricane Katrina, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “My office is a FEMA trailer,” said Police Superintendent Warren Riley. Riley said the police department lost 217 officers in 2005 and 216 in 2006. New Orleans lack of affordable housing, failing public schools, and low-paying jobs are among the reasons.
In 2005, the police force rose to a roster of 1,741, but now is short 482 officers while the homicide rate is at pre-Katrina levels while only about half the population has returned. Mayor Ray Nagin gave the panel a $17 million request for vehicles and equipment, $4 million to provide jobs for 2,000 young people, and $10 million for substance abuse treatment. “We need immediate help. We just don’t have the resources at this time,” he said.