New Orleans, LA – The New Orleans Police Department is making strides in most areas of public perception, but a new survey notes it still lags behind some other cities. The survey, released by the New Orleans Crime Coalition (NOCC) shows overall satisfaction with the performance of the NOPD remains steady at 58 percent since the previous survey in March 2013. But there were improvements in nearly all of the categories.
One of the biggest improvements was reported by respondents who were asked how satisfied they were with police performance in their own neighborhoods. A growing 74 percent say they are satisfied, up eight percent since March. The highest numbers were reported in the 3rd District, where 87 percent reported satisfaction. The lowest satisfaction level was in the 88th district, which includes the French Quarter, where numbers reached 54%.
Residents also believe police are doing more to address violent crime, with 60 percent saying they are satisfied, up from 55 percent in March. The survey also reported highs in satisfaction with police department honesty, integrity and professionalism since the first survey were recorded.
The survey found slight improvements in NOPD's enforcing traffics laws. Satisfaction with efforts to address property crime as well as with efforts to get drugs off the streets both held constant since the March survey findings.
Respondents were also asked to rate the officers themselves. 72 percent of respondents described their interaction with police officers outside police stations as courteous, down from a high of 80 percent in 2012. 80 percent described their interactions with officers at police stations as courteous, up from 62 percent in the previous survey.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas was pleased with the results. "These high scores of satisfaction- most at their highest since this independent survey was first taken nearly 4 years ago- are a testament to the dedication and professionalism of our officers", says Serpas. "People are feeling safer in their neighborhoods and they're reaching out to our officers more to help solve crimes. A police department can only succeed with the backing of its community, so it's clear we're on the right path, and people are gaining confidence in us."
Despite improvements, the N. O. Crime Coalition says It is important to note that high performing police departments in other cities typically score no lower than the 70 on ratings of citizen satisfaction like those reported above.
The survey is funded by Baptist Community Ministries Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Business Council. Loyola University's Dr. Michael Cowan, Crime Coalition chairman, says, "Our bi-annual report, which is a random survey of how New Orleanians view NOPD, is privately funded and citizen-driven, independent of the administration and the police department."
He added, "A community's relationship with its police department is a key indicator of that community's well being. Those who care about the health of our city must continue to track the state of that relationship in a public way. That is the purpose of our survey."
Survey results suggest that the most significant effort the New Orleans Police Department can undertake is to continue strengthening its practices of community and "hot spot" policing by increasing its presence in neighborhoods and building closer working relationships with their residents and businesses to solve specific problems in communities around the city, especially those where violent crime is highest. The New Orleans Crime Coalition sees the grave shortage of police officers as the major barrier to taking those steps.