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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEWORLEANS- It's been a tough summer for the New Orleans Police Department.

A new report shows the NOPD losing an average of one officer every other day for the past two months.

That's a loss of 37 officers since June.

Community leaders say a growing police shortage hits close to home.

'When you have less police officers, you're going to have more of the criminal element feel more comfortable about doing crimes,' said Karen Sepko representing the Warehouse District Neighborhood Association. 'We're seeing a lot of graffiti tagging in our neighborhood which we've never had before. We're seeing some other criminal activity which we suspect are drug deals.'

'I think the thing that people notice most is response time,' said Bob Simms from the French Quarter Management District. 'I tell people all the time if NOPD doesn't show up really quickly, it's probably because there isn't enough officers to get to you.'

According to the NOPD, there are now 1,216 officers with the department, 24 of them are recruits and on any given day there are about 80 to 85 officers with medical conditions assigned to limited duty.

That leaves approximately 1,107 officers on the active roster.

The department is budgeted for 1,275 officers.

'The 8th District here had 150 officers two years ago,' said Simms. 'Today it's around 110. Forty less officers is a lot to lose in two years.'

'As a real estate agent and as the owner of a brokerage company, you know the last thing we want to talk about is how bad the crime is,' said Sepko.

'We have a negative attrition rate,' said Fraternal Order of Police attorney and former NOPD officer Donavon Livaccari. 'There's no way for us to make up losing 37 people in 62 days when you're only hiring 60 people over the course of the year.'

Livaccari says there are a number of reasons why he believes officers are leaving the department.

'There's a lot of uncertainty about the paid detail system and the Office of Police Secondary Employment. We have issues about the domicile ordinance. There are current issues regarding covering tattoos.'

The NOPD is expected to get some relief over the next couple of months. The department is now in the process of hiring new recruits. The NOPD hopes to begin a recruit class before the end of the year.

New Orleans City Council member Susan Guidry released this statement about the police shortage:

'As the Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee, I am extremely concerned about the continued loss of NOPD officers. Given that we are already at an all-time low in terms of the number of uniformed police officers on our streets, we simply cannot afford to lose more. The Council added money to NOPD's proposed 2013 budget for the specific purpose of allowing the department to conduct two Academy classes this year. Chief Serpas told us earlier this summer that he expected that those two classes would essentially counter the normal rate of attrition he experiences, meaning that we would finish the year with roughly the same number of officers that we started with. But if this year's rate of attrition will indeed exceed our ability to fill vacancies, then we have an obligation to explore every possible remedy. We are exploring the possibility of starting a third recruit class this year. With regard to the domicile rule, if it is shown that the rule is hindering our efforts to recruit, then the Council should revisit the issue.'

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