NEW ORLEANS – The Police Association of New Orleans says the department is facing a “catastrophic staffing shortage.”
PANO is calling on the city to end the COVID-19 furloughs implemented in October.
PANO says they understand COVID-19 is impacting budgets, but they maintain the New Orleans Police Department cannot afford to be less effective in keeping the community safe.
According to PANO, the furloughing of one day per pay period has the effect of a 10% layoff, amounting to about 120 less officers on the street.
Captain Michael Glasser, President of PANO said, “When you couple that with the loss of State Police at the end of the quarter, when you couple that with the fact that we’re upside down with the respect to hiring for the first time in a long time. We’ve lost considerably more than we have been able to hire and it is not likely this furlough will help reverse this trend.”
Capt. Glasser says COVID-19 heigtened the staffing crisis.
In 2010, the department employed nearly 1600 commissioned officers. Now, the department struggles to stay about 1200.
“It really doesn’t matter if you have 100% of the department working 90% of the time or if you have 90% of the department working 100% of the time. Either way, you still have a 10% reduction,” Glasser said.
The association calls New Orleans increase in crime unprecedented. Homicides are up 90% with a 35% solve rate. They believe this trend will worsen with the reduction of two complete districts.
“The administration from the chiefs on down are doing the best job they can and the men and women of this department including the superintendent, but they can’t do more with less. They can’t do more especially with a lot less.”
Mayor Latoya Cantrell said, “Data does not suggest in any way that the services to the public have been jeopardized.”
Cantrell says the focus will always be kept on public safety and the goal is to not layoff anyone.
“As the City of New Orleans sees a revenue stream moving in the right direction and even by way of a stimulus package coming from the federal government, we will re-evaluate our financial position and the ability to look at furloughs,” Cantrell said.
PANO says they understand the city’s financial burden, but they believe continued furloughs will have longer lasting impacts on the community if the furloughs are not lifted soon.