While the number of crimes reported in New Orleans has climbed over the last three years, the city’s Metropolitan Crime Commission reports that arrests by a depleted police department steadily declined over the same time period, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Despite dwindling arrests, police and prosecutors gave little to no ground when it came to felony arrests and convictions. Rafael Goyeneche, president of the nonprofit watchdog group, says that, “the good news is, despite the significant decline in arrests, the smallest change in arrest categories was for felony arrests. So that means the police department, despite their lack of resources, is focusing the resources that are available on the most serious offenses.”
Police are using summonses in place of arrests whenever appropriate, said spokesman Tyler Gamble. “This practice holds people accountable for their actions and allows officers to spend more time patrolling our neighborhoods,” Gamble said. “Our goal is to continue to reduce the amount of time our officers spend on minor violations, so we can focus on preventing and reducing more violent crime, which is down eight percent year-to-date.” The commission found a 25-percent drop in arrests, from roughly 35,000 in 2012 to 26,000 in 2014. Felony arrests remained virtually unchanged, however, from 6,000 in 2012 to 5,500 in 2014, and felony arrests for violent crimes rose from 1,375 in 2012 to 1,550 in 2014.