Upcoming vote on security districts highlights NOPD manpower issues

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 11:22 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 31 at 11:41 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Robert McEntee generally feels safe in his Mid-City neighborhood.

“We're fortunate in this particular area,” he said.

But with the size of the New Orleans police force at a historic low, he doesn't want to take any chances. That's why he believes paying for extra patrols is worth it.

“Our police department is going to take a while to get up to snuff and get to the levels we need,” he said. “I think we're going to have to have this augmented service.”

In 33 neighborhood security districts throughout the city, homeowners like McEntee pay regular fees for extra security patrols. The Mid-City Security District is the largest of six up for renewal on Saturday’s ballot.

“The feedback I've gotten from a number of people is, ‘Why do we have to be paying extra money for a service that the NOPD should be providing?’ I can't say I disagree with that,” said Jim Olsen, Chair of the Mid-City Security District. “They're just not able to put the officers on the street at the level that makes people feel comfortable.”

The Mid-City Security District has between three and six off duty officers patrolling the streets around the clock.

“I work different shifts, so it's nice having the comfort and seeing them coming and going and feeling safer because of their presence,” said Mid-City resident Mary O'Rear.

Police Chief Ronal Serpas has said publicly the NOPD could use more officers but is doing the best it can with the resources it has.

The city has budgeted to put 150 new officers on the street in 2014 and plans to continue to grow the force until is has 1,600 officers.

And those like McEntee hope, when his security districts comes up for renewal in another five years, residents won't feel they it.

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