NEW ORLEANS -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu has spent the last few years trying to grow the New Orleans Police Department’s depleted ranks to 1,600 officers by 2020.
On Monday, he told the 40 recruits of class No. 182 that that they’re part of a milestone moment for the department.
“The department right now stands at 1,167,” Landrieu told the recruits. “We with this class crossed the milestone of 1,200 officers.”
Landrieu’s claim of 1,200 officers is a number the department has not seen in four years, according to WWL-TV crime analyst Jeff Asher.
But is Landrieu’s headcount accurate?
Former NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the members of the latest recruit class are not considered commissioned police officers until they graduate the academy -- a 26-week process -- and become certified by the state.
“It’s not accurate to say anyone who is in the academy should be in the sworn count,” Serpas said, adding that those recruits are no more police officers than the front-desk receptionist at NOPD headquarters.
And while Landrieu is hopeful all members of the class will make it to graduation day, history shows that’s a tall order. Asher said that on average, 15 percent of recruits fail to make it that far.
In addition to not all would-be officers making it past the academy, the department has struggled to stem bleeding of exiting officers. Asher said the NOPD averages 9 percent attrition every year.
Though the NOPD has shown slow signs of growth, WWL rates Landrieu’s claim of 1,200 on the force as false.
WWL asked the NOPD and City Hall if 68 additional recruits who are farther along in the process of becoming full-fledged officers were counted as part the 1,167. That question was not answered.
But if those recruits aren’t commissioned officers, the actual number of police could be as low as 1,099.