For the last year, we have been talking about the shortage of NOPD officers. We are down to a little over 1,100 when conventional wisdom tells us we need at least 300 more.
That shortfall has manifested itself in a number of ways, most recently in the increasing number of stories we have heard about how long it takes to get a response to a 911 call. We tend to think that because it sometimes takes almost an hour for a unit to arrive, we must not have enough cops, and the solution is to hire more!
But we may want to look at the whole situtation a little differently. New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux released a report today showing that NOPD might not need 300 new officers; it should just use the officers it has in a different way.
So if we better used the cops we have, we could avoid hiring more but still get a better result?
"That's a fair statement. We went through a very elaborate and complicated process using a national expert," Mr Quatrevaux told me. "Dr. Weiss wrote the textbook on sizing police departments. There is really no methodology for that, but there is a method for figuring out how many officers you need to answer citizens' call for service, and that's what we did."
All I'm concerned about as a citizen is how many officers are on duty in my neighborhood, either at two o'clock in the afternoon or two o'clock at night.
"Well, we have the data! If you want 100 officers to work seven days a week, three shifts a day, you have to hire 162 officers because they take leave, get weekends off and all of that. If only half their time is devoted to calls for service, well, now you need twice as many. So this 50, 40, 30% in the report - thsoe were different levels as a percent of time the officers spent time devoted to answering calls for service. Actual practice can be quite different."
It's a fascinating problem to unpack, with many moving parts and very real consequences for our community. Take a listen to the podcast and tell us what you think!
Smarter Management Or a Public Culture of Responsibility?
Smarter Management of Police can only go so far. It's the City's BIG EASY CULTURE of IRRESPONSIBILITY of 24/7 alcohol and public intoxication that causes a lot of the problems...from DWI to Rape to the loss of jobs and break down of family.