NOPD does big manpower shift to the French Quarter - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NOPD does big manpower shift to the French Quarter

New Orleans, La. -

New Orleans, La.-The New Orleans Police Department is now deploying 26 officers to the French Quarter, taken from other parts of the city, for the next two months.

The police chief says it won't affect coverage in other parts of the city, but some residents aren't convinced.

Fox 8 obtained an e-mail, showing that 26 officers, 25 of them recruits or probationary rookies, are headed to the French Quarter.

"The officers will do two months in the  Quarter, because at the end of the day we all go there, these are not permanent assignments and it's not permanent, and it's a good boost in the staffing for what we have coming up in the next two months,"said Police Chief Ronal Serpas.

The move comes just in time for busy holiday traffic and an unprecedented January and February that will see the city host a Sugar bowl, a Super bowl and Mardi Gras.

However, while French Quarter residents are pleased with the extra manpower, others are concerned.

In New Orleans east, Tanika Smith keeps close watch on her son as he puts up Christmas decorations, just days after a Gentilly man was robbed while doing the same thing.

Chief Serpas says the extra French Quarter manpower will have minimal impact on other parts of town.

"If you think about it this way there are 26 officers, we have 24 shifts in the city, that's one per shift," said Serpas.

"The fact is it does rob other districts, for anyone who would say it's one officer, you got to wonder for the guy who got robbed putting up Christmas lights could that one officer have made a difference," said Raymond Burkart III, with the Fraternal Order of Police.

Chief Serpas says the goal is to make these rookies better officers. He says it's all part of a shift in training adopted this year, that gives every officer field experience in the Quarter, as well as special operations.

Seven of the re-deployed officers are coming from the Seventh District in the east and Smith would like to see more officers, either permanent or temporary, in her own neighborhood.

"Spread it out in a lot of other neighborhoods that need it. It used to be quiet in the east but not anymore and they are needed here," said Smith.

And the chief says new officers are being hired for the coming year.

A total of 38 officers are being re-assigned, with a net loss of six officers, being taken from the Seventh District in the east. In fact, every district, except the Eighth is losing four or five officers, with the Second District Uptown, being the lone exception. It's only giving up one probationary officer under the re-deployment plan.

Serpas says the city has given him money for two new recruit classes in the year ahead. While that should help hire 100 officers, it will basically just help keep the department at it's current staff of 1260 officers because of anticipated retirements in the year ahead.

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