NEWORLEANS-- A little more than six months after becoming the city's top cop, New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced major changes on Wednesday, in how the department uses technology to fight crime.
'This process will likely result in a re-organization of the police department that has never occurred in our history,' Serpas said.
Among the changes: the use of a new software program called the 'Omega Crime View.' It analyzes crime trends in real time and allows commanders to marshal field units more effectively. Serpas said the program is designed to be a major upgrade from the department's current Comstat Analysis Program, which has been in place in the city since 1996.
'I can assure you, best practices in this nation does not use a static, stale strategy of crime analysis,' Serpas said.
The department also plans to rely heavily on evidence testing, including ballistics. Since September, the NOPD crime lab has logged thousands into a national database.
'That's a total of 2,272 pieces of firearm evidence that have been entered into a national ballistic information system, which will advance our investigations, which will result in hits,' the superintendent said.
That move brought the NOPD's ballistics backlog down to zero. However, one massive backlog remains: that of more than 600 sexual assault kits that have never been tested. New Orleans Police are now entering into a new partnership with Marshall University to conduct that testing -- about 60 kits a month at no charge to the city.
'I don't need to remind you the powerful evidence of DNA that comes from sexual assault kits,' Serpas said.
The department will also begin looking for a computer vendor to analyze calls for service and community policing time. The department may also reconfigure the boundaries of the city's eight police districts.
'Why do we split the second and the sixth [districts] between Louisiana Avenue? Because we always did. There's no logic,' Serpas said. 'There's no reason. There's no science. Well, we need that science and we're going to get it.'
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the city's criminal justice system representatives welcomed the news on Wednesday, but pointed out that technology alone won't solve the city's crime problem.
'This has to involve the entire community,' Mayor Landrieu said. 'It has to involve the issues of education, it has to involve the issues of recreation, it has to involve the issues of juvenile justice.'
'We have to encourage people not only to make a report, but to stay with us throughout this system,' said Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.
Also during Wednesday's news conference, Serpas announced a new program called 'El Protector.' It will place officers that will act as liaisons between the NOPD and the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities in the city, in order to help overcome language barriers during police investigations.