NOPD chief predicts lower murder rate at year's end - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NOPD chief predicts lower murder rate at year's end

New Orleans, La. -

With just three days to go in 2012, the city's police chief says murders took a slight dip, as did other categories of violent crime.  But while the final numbers aren't official, the chief and advocacy groups say there's still much work to do, and some say a variety of crime initiatives should be scrapped.

Tamara Jackson lost her father to violent crime 14 years ago, and has high expectations from police.  "One life is one too many," she told us.

Gilbert Asaguirie knows that all too well, after losing his son last month in Algiers.  "Nobody is safe now.  Today it was me. Tomorrow it might be a politician's son. Anybody is at risk," he said.

The city's police chief is urging patience.  "We lost 112 police officers in 2012.  That means today we have 112 less people engaged in the crime fight in the city of new Orleans.  And yet we will see crime flatten in the city of New Orleans," said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

He says, with three days left in 2012, the city is below last year's murder rate.  "Murders are down by nine cases this year, but the majority are still handguns," Serpas said.

But the coroner's figures disagree with the chief's statement.  Orleans Parish Coroner spokesman John Gagliano says we have had 192 murders so far, four higher than the chief's count.

Though murders stayed about the same in 2012, the chief says, when it comes to overall violent crime, the city's compares favorably with other comparable cities.

New Orleans did not make the list of Forbes' top ten crime cities, and it didn't see the increases in murders that other cities such as Chicago and Detroit saw.

"We think by the end of the year murder, rape, armed robbery and burglary and auto theft will be lower," said Serpas.

Serpas cites new software programs such as Lexipol and Omega and new efforts such as NOLA for Life and Cease Fire.  "I believe NOLA for Life approaches all the dynamics necessary," said Serpas.

Tamara Jackson with the advocacy group Silence is Violence disagrees.

"I don't think they're working," Jackson said.  "I think the focus needs to be on what the problems are in new Orleans."

The chief predicts these programs will take hold, saying, " NOLA for Life, for a global strategy, will work."

Meantime, he's redeploying 22 officers to gang units which are already showing promise.

"The Street Gang Unit answers the bell... when we tell a group 'drop your gun and stop shooting' and they refuse, they are free to apply force constitutionally,"said Serpas.

The chief is also moving forward with provisional promotions of sergeants and lieutenants --  without civil service tests -- and he is promising a transparent process.

Serpas now prepares for the Super Bowl in just over a month. He's appointed Commander Ed Hosli to spearhead the effort, even though he was suspended and remains under investigation for forming a limited liability corporation to review tickets.

Serpas said, "These are big events.  Commander Hosli spent five years in the French Quarter as district commander, and I'm using him."

The chief predicts a better year ahead. "I think another year of our crimefighting tech plan, data-driven approaches, smart arrests, better prosecutions... 2013 will be a good year." 

And Chief Serpas says new hires will help. He predicts the police department will have two new recruit classes next year, which should give it 100 new officers -- just enough to hold steady at a force of about 1260 police men and women.

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