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NOPD Plan 'to save the city' | More officers on the street, 50 recommendations

Since the report consists of recommendations, it is not yet known if all of the suggestions will be adopted, or which may generate controversy in the ranks.

NEW ORLEANS — The wholesale re-deployment of scores of officers from desk jobs, detective bureaus and specialized units to join under-staffed street patrols is one of the highlights of a sweeping plan drawn up by the police consultants who were announced last week the stop the bleeding at the NOPD.

The 10-day analysis by former New York police commanders Fausto Pichardo and Thomas Conforti includes some changes that were previously announced by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, such as replacing Arlinda Westbrook as the commander of the Public Integrity Bureau.

But the bulk of the 50 recommendations in the nine-page summary report deal with putting more uniformed cops on the street, pro-actively patrolling the city’s crime hot-spots.

“The re-allocation of commissioned officers to provide patrol support is unavoidable,” the report states. “No one is exempt, regardless of rank or assignment. Staffing levels on the street must rise to a level in which officers are safe.”

In one of the consultants’ boldest recommendations, they note that if the first wave of re-deployments “is not adequate” they suggest closing the 2nd district and re-deploying those officers to the 1st and 6th districts.

“With less than 950 commissioned officers, it is not uncommon to have a response time approaching three hours for a non-priority 911 call,” the report states. “This is unacceptable to the residents of New Orleans. The simple expectations that the police will arrive when you call them is not a current reality in New Orleans.”

While the nine-page plan is only a draft subject to change, Police Association of New Orleans president Michael Glasser said sweeping changes to put more cops on the street will welcomed by front-line officers.

“The officers that are in the street that are suffering now, the 400 cops that we have now that are trying to hold this together, and answer calls – 30, 40, 50 call backlog – they're going to be happy to have that help,” Glasser said.

Among the most sweeping re-deployment recommendations is assigning 40 reserve officers to the high-crime 5th and 7th districts, putting captains who aren’t district commanders on night duty in each district for a 24/7 command presence and re-assigning 40 officers now working in specialized units such as the mounted, K-9 and motorcycles divisions.

But Glasser believes some of the proposals may face an uphill climb, such as getting 40 of the NOPD's 85 reserve officers to help with patrol duty.

“I think some of these moves are somewhat ambitious. I think there are some considerations that have not been made. Some of these positions are by law and by ordinance,” Glasser said.

In one change already made to the proposal, a recommendation in an early draft of the plan to move more than 200 officers has now been re-set to an estimated 75 to 100 cops.

“With attrition and recruitment also at critical levels, the department must move from the specialization model of past days to an ‘everyone must pitch in’ model,” the report states.

Since the report consists of recommendations, it is not yet known if all of the suggestions will be adopted, or which may generate controversy in the ranks.

But incentives to retain officers and recruit new ones is another major emphasis in the report. Those ideas, some previously announced by Cantrell and Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson include making overtime part of officers’ pensions, expand health insurance to include family members and offer student loan forgiveness.

Other proposals may generate more controversy.

For example, the consultants recommend reviewing “the folders to recently disqualified candidates to determine if the vetting is too stringent.”

The report, based on visits to police districts, attendance at commander’s meetings and tours of the city’s neighborhoods, uses strong language in the portrayal of the city’s bleak crime picture and depleted police force.

“Recent national news reports have sounded the alarm that New Orleans is now the homicide capital of the nation. Headlines such as these can be devastating to the tourist and business economies,” the report states. “Action must be taken NOW if there is ever a chance to save the city and bring the reputation of being a city where tourists can come to party and celebrate and not become victims.”

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