New Orleans recently gained the dubious distinction of becoming the “murder capital of the US,” snatching the title from St. Louis, Missouri. Per WDSU News:
NEW ORLEANS —
The city of New Orleans has been declared the murder capital of the United States for the first half of 2022, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
The MCC said when comparing the number of homicides with the population, the homicide rate in New Orleans is significantly higher than in any other American city.
Homicides are up by 46% from this same time last year and up 141% since 2019 according to MCC.
The city started hemorrhaging officers a decade ago when then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu imposed a two-year hiring freeze.
Since then, efforts to replenish a force of nearly 1,600 have fallen short and couldn’t keep pace with a rising tide of departures to other law enforcement agencies.
Plummeting morale has sped up the rate of attrition in recent years and the force is now depleted by a third.
The city is losing about 100 officers a year to retirement and resignation, around 10 percent of the current force of 989, according to City Council President Helena Moreno.
Captain Mike Glasser, President of the Police Association of New Orleans, recently joined Fox News to discuss the City’s desperate straits in relation to the crime wave.
In response, the City is contemplating a rather novel approach: hiring civilians to perform functions that have traditionally been handled by officers.
The New Orleans Police Department superintendent held a news conference Thursday to address police patrols as well as response to service calls.
NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson announced that the force is focusing on hiring civilian workers to help with the officer shortage.
Ferguson said some of those civilian workers will even be trained to do detective work.
So what will that entail?
Ferguson confirmed civilians will assist with administrative tasks as well as calls for service.
Medical calls, forgery calls, some theft, lose animals, auto accidents on private property are just some of the calls that will no longer require a police presence.
Instead civilians will assist responding to these calls through via online reports or phone reports, and some will work along investigators and detectives with collecting evidence.
In order to accommodate these changes, the City is revising some of its hiring requirements. The potential hires will need to pass a drug test, they will not be asked about marijuana use as part of the hiring process. Additionally, applicants with low credit scores will now be eligible.
What about training?
Civilians who are hired will undergo training curriculums and background checks before being permitted to work for NOPD.
“The goal is for our officers to feel safe so they can make our citizens and visitors feel safe,” Ferguson said.
“This is also to reduce some of the workload currently placed on our patrol and district personnel but most importantly to reduce response times.”
Whether this will have an appreciably positive effect on the City’s crime rate obviously remains to be seen. It does seem preferable to defunding the police.