NEW ORLEANS — If the New Orleans Police Department was a football team, there would be barely enough players to take the field.
“We don’t have enough people to adequately patrol,” Police Association of New Orleans President Michael Glasser said. “We don’t have enough people to deny criminals and opportunity to operate because we don’t have enough people out there When a crime does occur, we don’t have enough people to investigate the crimes fully.”
According to the NOPD, there are currently about 1,054 officers on the rolls in a department built for 1,600.
Glasser says if you factor in the number of personnel assigned to administrative duties or who are out sick with covid, the number drops to only about 900 officers.
“It’s unfortunate that as people come to roll calls and they see fewer and fewer people working with them, the workload goes up and the safety goes down. Their ability to function properly goes down.”
The NOPD lost 150 officers last year.
At the same time, there were only 40 new hires.
A growing number of officers are lost to law enforcement agencies like the Louisiana State Police with a lateral transfer policy.
That means they can leave the NOPD, attend a brief academy and keep their rank when they move.
Melanie Talia, President of The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation says any crime plan the city implements should include additional dollars for recruitment.
“I am optimistic that we can turn around the manpower numbers,” Talia said. “This is not the first time the New Orleans Police Department has found itself short-staffed. We did it in the 90s. We did it since then.”
The NOPD is expected to hold three police academy classes this year with a goal of 90 recruits.
“We have had years where we’ve had as much as 90,” Talia said. “I believe we even broke 100, one year. So, it absolutely is doable.”
The NOPD has already lost about 20 officers so far this year.
“On the average, we’ve lost one officer every two and a half days last year and it’s not likely to change,” Glasser said.
Glasser added, the number one reason why officers are leaving the NOPD is an over-zealous public integrity bureau.
He also said other top reasons include the department’s promotion policy and what he called a lack of future career potential.