There are many positives when it comes to the New Orleans Police Department. We have incredible officers, who know how to handle hundreds of thousands of people with strength and a good amount of heart…whether it is Mardi Gras, or last weekend’s incredible French Quarter Festival. Our police know how to keep things moving.
And, individually, we have stellar officers who work hard for not enough money, yet love what they do.
But, we don’t have enough men and women in blue. We are at historic lows, down almost a third and dropping.
The city budget allowed for five training classes this year, but the first one only garnered 19 candidates. We may lose more than that by the time these men and women graduate. And to listen to some officers, we are losing more police because of the major cut in income due to the change in how details are handled, and because of the lack of promotion of those ranked lieutenant and above.
There are good things to report too, such as a new budget that allowed for desperately needed new police cars and new body cameras for officers. And there is the major news that police, as well as firefighters and EMS workers, will now be able to live anywhere they want and not be restricted to living in Orleans parish. These are real positives. But, all the issues must be addressed to stem the flow from the NOPD. It's excellence is at risk…as is our safety.
Police Chief Ronal Serpas joined me for a rare one-on-one today, and we also talked Raymond Burkart III, attorney with the Fraternal Order of Police. Please, give it a listen…