In a report released Nov. 20, the Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC) found the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) "35-year low" officer shortage (300 officers have left the NOPD since 2010) has led to its lowest level of arrests since 2007. Arrests diminished 15 percent from 2012 to the first half of 2013, despite a crime rate that remained relatively unchanged.
Felony arrests account for 18 percent of arrests, though felony arrests decreased 13 percent (from 3,187 in the first half of 2012 to 2,777 in the first half of 2013), with the largest drop seen in drug felony arrests — 24 percent (from 1,183 to 897) in the same time period.
The report also says felony cases accepted for prosecution decreased 15 percent in the same time frame, another new low since 2007 (though one that somewhat reflects the smaller arrest numbers). The first half of 2013 "had fewer closed felony cases than any other time since the second half of 2008," the report adds. Pending felony cases in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court dropped 16 percent.
The report concludes, "A smaller police force with increasingly finite resources magnifies the negative impact these arrests have upon the police department's ability to respond to crime and provide for community safety."— ALEX WOODWARD