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New Orleans PD Catches Bad Case of Staffing Shortage

Add New Orleans to the list of cities struggling to maintain a fully staffed police department amid high attrition. reports that the pandemic freeze on recruiting and heavy resignations and retirements that accelerated last year put the New Orleans Police Department down by about one-sixth of its authorized force since the start of last year. The city has hired 55 recruits since the start of last year, while 227 have left policework, including a dozen of those new hires. The most recent police academy graduation featured just eight new officers and the flow of applications has slowed.

Debating a suitable size for the police force has become a fruitless exercise, said Jeff Asher, public safety analyst for the city council. "It makes it silly to hear 'How many officers should we have?' — whether we should have 1,200 or 1,400 or 1,600 — when we have 1,000 or fewer and we’re trending downward,” Asher said, who added that New Orleans' version of this national trend seems to be particularly acute. The diminished force has struggled to mount a timely response to calls for service. Police response times for serious emergencies — a sore spot for residents even in better times — hover at their longest in more than a decade, while residents endure an epidemic of brazen carjackings across the city. A recent resident survey found satisfaction with the NOPD has tumbled in a year, in every neighborhood, while three-quarters of residents support increasing officer staffing and paying them more. A recent retention survey commissioned by the department found pay was a distant second in the reasons officers gave for leaving. Officers said they stayed mostly because they were stuck, waiting for retirement or were looking for work, the survey found.


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