Despite working more collaboratively and efficiently, New Orleans’ police and prosecutors are making little headway against a rising tide of felony violence because of city government decisions that have hobbled their performance and endangered the community, the Metropolitan Crime Commission said today, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Police and prosecutors are applying their resources more efficiently and effectively, but community safety has not improved,” the non-profit watchdog organization said. “The critical shortage of [police] officers has not improved over the past four years. … The department lacks the manpower to timely respond to calls for service and adequately address the high rate of crime.”
The report traces the city’s crime predicament to the desk of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, first elected in 2010. Landrieu’s two-year police hiring freeze, along with timid recruitment efforts in the two years that followed, allowed the department’s manpower to wither by 25 percent, from 1,546 officers in 2009 to 1,165 last year. “The misguided decision in 2010 to freeze police hiring for years created the critical … manpower shortage that continues to adversely impact public safety,” the report said. One of the most startling statistics in the crime commission report is that the number of arrests plummeted 44 percent between 2013 and 2016, as the effects of the department’s manpower shortage and the federal consent decree became more pronounced. In the same period, the percentage of arrests made for serious felony allegations climbed from 19 percent in 2013 to 28 percent last year.