Following the New Orleans Police Department's (NOPD) mid-year budget presentation, New Orleans District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry asked why the city has seen a significant rise in killings from 2014 to 2015.
Last year, New Orleans had 150 total homicides, down from 155 in 2013 and 193 in 2012. So far this year (as of press time), there have been 109, with five months left in 2015. At the council's July 29 Criminal Justice Committee meeting, Guidry said last year saw more shootings but an overall decrease in murders, "and now the opposite is happening," she said. "Why is that?"
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said, "That's a harder answer to give than a question asked." Harrison said NOPD has noticed an uptick in gang and group violence, as well as domestic-related murders, arguments between people who know one another that lead to killings, and robberies that turn violent, as well as "an increase in the brazenness of offenders." Harrison is expected to meet with other cities' police departments facing similar violence crises and "put our heads together ... and deal with it."
Meanwhile, Harrison said NOPD isn't losing officers; the department has 1,148 officers, which includes 60 new recruits still in training and mirrors the ranks around this time in 2014. Harrison also took more than 30 officers off desk duty to work in the field. So far this year, NOPD has received 3,000 applications following Harrison's aggressive recruitment ad campaign. But the ranks are still too slim for Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who has pushed to boost the department to at least 1,600 officers.