NEW ORLEANS – Some killers in the city are getting away with murder.
Police have identified the culprits in less than half of the 84 homicides this year -- a statistic that is far below the national average.
“That’s never good enough,” Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said Monday. “We set high goals for ourselves, and we want to make sure we solve and clear all of our homicides. That’s what we’re always aiming for.”
According to figures the New Orleans Police Department provided, the homicide division’s clearance rate hovers around 37 percent. The national average is 64 percent.
In neighboring Jefferson Parish, there have been 17 killings this year. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said it has made arrests in all but two of those incident – a clearance rate of about 80 percent.
Harrison said his commanders are working to increase the number of homicide detectives, something he hopes will increase the clearance rate.
“In the very imminent future, they're going to be making selections for at least one, maybe even more to be detectives to homicide to help them with their case load,” he said.
But restocking the number of homicide detectives could be harder than anticipated.
The president of the Police Association of New Orleans said the department recently opened an application period for new homicide detectives – but no one applied.
Capt. Michael Glasser said he’s now pushing for a 5 percent pay raise for the homicide division to entice would-be gumshoes.
“We’re trying to incentivize that particular position because of the type of case load they have to work,” he said.
The city’s Civil Service Commission is expected to vote on the raise for homicide detectives at its June 26, meeting.
"We need to get officers to both come to the homicide division and to stay there once they're there," Glasser said.
In the meantime, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city "absolutely needs more police officers."
Monday, the NOPD welcomed a new, 28-member recruit class, the 13th academy class since the city lifted the department's hiring freeze in 2012.
"We need more resources and we need more manpower which is to say we need more people to show up to be police officers," Landrieu said.
"If it's a terrorist attack you're going to be the first one there," the mayor added. "If it's a homeland security threat, you're going to be the first one there. If it's a natural disaster or a manmade disaster, you're going to be the first ones there. If it's public safety threats on the streets of New Orleans, which we have more than our fair share of you are going to be the first ones there."
The recruits will now undergo training 8 hours a day, Monday through Friday for the next 26 weeks.