NEW ORLEANS – Twenty-eight new police officers entered the police academy Monday morning, two days after the city’s stubborn crime problem resulted in 13 people shot – three fatally – on Saturday.
While it was the 13th recruit class since the New Orleans Police Department’s hiring freeze was lifted in 2012, the department has struggled to keep pace with a goal of 150 new officers each year, leading to a depleted force.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said that while more officers are just one part of curbing crime, it’s a critical component and he continues to try to attract more recruits.
“We need people to show up, because, you know, there is no mandatory draft for police officers,” Landrieu told the recruits. “People actually have to step up to the plate, and you have to make the decision to make the sacrifice so that other people can be safe.”
Police Superintendent Michal Harrison said that as the new officers hit the streets, he will be able to increase the number of detectives in the homicide division. That office has struggled to keep up with a ballooning caseload.
Right now, the clearance rate is at 37 percent and the solve rate is at 44 percent, Harrison said. Both are below the national average.
The clearance rate trends up or down depending upon if detectives can identify a suspect and get a warrant or make an arrest, while the solve rate is based upon detectives being able to identify a suspect.
“We set high goals for ourselves, and we want to make sure we solve and clear all of our homicides,” Harrison told Eyewitness News. “That’s what we’re always aiming for.”
Eyewitness News will have a closer look at the homicide division and its clearance and solve rates at 5 p.m.