NEW ORLEANS -- For the second time in three days, a watchdog agency is questioning the New Orleans Police Department's crime statistics.
A report released Wednesday by the city's inspector general shows that some crimes aren't being classified as crimes at all.
The state legislative auditor on Monday questioned why some crime complaints to the NOPD didn't result in investigations. Wednesday, the city's inspector general takes issue with crimes that were investigated but never classified as crimes.
"We found in this case, 177 times in six months, which is a lot, that there was in fact crime that was not reported as such,” said Howard Schwartz, first assistant inspector general. “And they're not doing anything about it. We brought it to their attention. They agreed. And they agreed to investigate it."
In his report focusing on a six-month period in the Eighth District, Schwartz said police classified 177 out of 426 complaints as "lost or stolen" property, a signal 21, even after a thief used the victim's credit card.
Most victims were tourists in the French Quarter and CBD, victims who would be unlikely to follow up their complaints.
This allegation is nothing new. In a 2011 internal report obtained by Eyewitness News, a sergeant in the compliance office flagged the Eighth District for the very same allegation.
Unlike the 2011 review, the inspector general’s report is getting instant results. NOD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said that starting Jan. 1, any loss of property that could be a theft will be investigated as such.
"The 21 lost or stolen policy in the New Orleans Police Department is 30 years old,” Serpas said. “I think we've all come to see that that policy just isn't a good policy. So we're changing it."
The move was applauded by the inspector general’s office.
"I think it's a matter of training and oversight which, according to Chief Serpas, they're going to do,” Schwartz said.
The inspector general's office said the NOPD also gave assurances that the misclassified cases will now be reported in the city's crime statistics and re-investigated by detectives.