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NOPD is undermanned and struggling with low morale

Officers are quitting and morale is low. The NOPD is faced with a serious challenge.

NEW ORLEANS — With just less than a thousand officers in a department built for about 1,600, The New Orleans Police Department has an internal challenge 

“Morale has not been that great recently,” Fraternal Order of Police attorney Donovan Livaccari said

Livaccari said fundamental changes need to happen before morale will change.

“We’ve seen an unbelievable number of people leave the department to go to other departments,” Livaccari said. 

One of those officers is Scott Fanning. 

“You feel like you can just keep doing it no matter how tough it gets,” Fanning said. 

Assigned to the eighth district, the three-year officer didn’t go to another department. He quit mid-shift Friday. 

“I feel like I did what I had to do for my own safety and that it was just getting beyond workable. It was time to go and I did what was best for me,” Fanning said.

Fanning said backlogs of calls and being unable to help people quickly started weighing on him. 

“I’ve seen a robbery where somebody called the police because they got robbed and we take so long to get there by the time we get there for a robbery they left,” said Fanning. “People aren’t even feeling motivated like they’re even helping anymore because you’ve got all these people waiting for so long.”  

Chief Shaun Ferguson called Fanning’s departure disheartening.  

“He abandoned, as far as we’re concerned, the citizens of New Orleans,” Ferguson said. “He abandoned this department.” 

Fanning is one of many officers who’ve left over the years for various reasons, which city council vice president JP Morell said points to a problem with leadership.  

“He didn’t leave the department. The department left him,” Morrell said. “When you’ve got a shortage of officers, more importantly, when you’ve got an exodus of officers, that’s an indictment on the force.” 

A force Ferguson said is committed to serving and protecting but acknowledges challenges, like staffing and response times.  

“We’re doing our very best with everything that we have,” Ferguson said.  

That effort has full support from Mayor LaToya Cantrell, who appointed Ferguson.

“The leadership under Superintendent Shaun Ferguson has been one that is stellar and is of top-notch integrity,” Cantrell said.

With the city trying to focus on officer retention and recruitment, Livaccari said it hasn't been easy, since the best way to recruit officers is with current officers.  

“It’s all one big swirling mess. I think we can get through it. We just really need to get to work,” Livaccari said.


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