NEW ORLEANS -- U.S. Sen John Kennedy on Monday morning defended recent controversial statements calling for New Orleans police to stop, question and frisk people and saying that Mayor Mitch Landrieu needs to get serious about fighting crime during his last months in office before the city “becomes the next Detroit.”

“It’s OK if you want to talk about climate change and monuments and the importance, in his opinion, of being a sanctuary city,” Kennedy said during an interview on the Eyewitness Morning News. “But what I honestly believe, personalities aside, the biggest problem we’re facing in New Orleans … is crime.”

Kennedy accused Landrieu of gutting the NOPD by enacting a hiring freeze upon taking office in 2010. That action did reduce the police force by several hundred officers, and it has been a struggle to replenish the ranks. Landrieu has said the department was on the brink of going bankrupt when he took office, mandating the hiring freeze.

Kennedy said he considers Landrieu a friend but had not spoken to him since making the comments about the city’s crime problem during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for FBI Director Christopher Wray.

After Kennedy made those comments, Landrieu shot back saying the senator, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Judiciary committees, “has not taken one concrete step toward making our city, state, or the nation any safer. It’s just the same old stuff, straight from the Vitter/Landry/Kennedy playbook.”

“What I think the mayor’s upset about is the fact that I’m suggesting stop, question and frisk,” Kenney said. “He sees that through a political lens. I see that through a law-enforcement lens.”

Meanwhile, Kennedy said he likes “parts” of the Republican health-care bill and said he will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“If the plan to replace it is better than Obamacare, I will vote for it,” he said.

He said it’s “impossible” to say whether he’ll vote for the Republican plan since it’s still changing. “It can start out as a dog and end as a giraffe.”