NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for the first quarter of 2016, the number of murders in New Orleans is down 33 percent in the first three months of the year when compared to the same time frame in 2015. Murder reduction remains the City’s top priority and the NOLA FOR LIFE murder reduction strategy continues to focus aggressively on enforcement and prevention.
“While they represent only the first quarter of this year, the numbers show that murder is continuing to trend down in New Orleans,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “Since the launch of the NOLA FOR LIFE murder reduction strategy in 2012, the number of murders reported in the city have dropped to some of the lowest levels reported in decades. At the same time, one murder is too many murders. As a police department, we are committed to using every resource available to prevent murder and apprehend those who commit violent crimes.”
Comparing the first quarter of 2016 with the last quarter of 2015, overall crime is down four percent. Person crimes are down 12 percent with a reduction in armed robberies and simple robberies and assaults. Property crimes are down nearly two percent with reductions in burglaries. The numbers show new deployment efforts have led to a downward trend in overall crime over the past six months.
Putting more officers on neighborhood patrol
In order to increase street patrols in neighborhoods across the city, earlier this year, Chief Harrison redeployed dozens of officers from administrative duties to respond to citizen calls. A total of 76 officers have been redeployed as part of this effort. An additional 18 officers are expected to be deployed to the streets.
In addition to the new redeployment, 29 recruits from Class #174 will complete field training and will begin patrol in July. At the same time, a total of 68 recruits are in training at the NOPD Training Academy. The department is expected to graduate one recruit class in July and another in November.
Smart initiatives saving time in the field
The NOPD is moving forward on innovative solutions to save officers time in the field. Since August 2015, the department has assigned officers who are currently assigned to desk duty to handle calls over the phone when a resident needs a police report but doesn’t require a police response. Through this process, citizens who are affected by non-violent property crimes hear from an officer more quickly via phone and in turn, officers on the street are able to focus their time on more violent offenses. So far in 2016, the Alternative Police Response Unit (APR) has saved almost 2400 patrol officer hours, and is projected to save almost 4,400 hours by the end of the year. In addition, APR assists the Orleans Parish Communications District with calling complainants back while they wait for an officer to arrive.
Building on the momentum of the APR, the NOPD is moving toward an on-line reporting system for residents and visitors to report non-violent property crimes to the NOPD that don’t require an officer to arrive on scene. The program is based on successful models already in place in Seattle, Austin and Baltimore. The system is expected to be in place later this year.
Finally, in 2015, the City Council unanimously approved an updated false alarm ordinance that, when fully implemented, will free up the equivalent of at least six full-time officers and follow best practices adopted by police departments around the country that allow officers to more quickly respond to actual crimes and focus more efforts on proactive community policing. The program is expected to begin later this year.