Cash-strapped NOPD gets an extra $4 million

The New Orleans Police Department - scraping for every nickel it can get - on Friday got millions from the city.

The city got a nearly $8 million windfall thanks to two new Walmarts, Costco, Mid-City markets and improved tax collections.

"We are doing better in the current year than revenue estimates first estimated," said Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin.

With the "new" money, the Landrieu administration is proposing the return of $4 million previously taken from the NOPD.

"We can use this money for cars, computers, body cameras," said interim Superintendent Michael Harrison.

But council members raised concerns about dismal usage rates for camera equipment already purchased by the NOPD, saying they're hesitant to put good money after bad.

"Some districts like the Seventh and Eighth had a 100 percent non-functional rate, in other districts, those cameras were working," said Councilwoman Susan Guidry.

Harrison said part of the problem is officer pushback, part of it is old equipment and a lack of computer storage space. He also said that sometimes officers can't turn them on.

"There are instances where we don't want them on, to tell us about a drug dealer," said Harrison.

But some questioned whether officers should get any discretion.

"I'm frightened when he says he wants to give an officer the right to turn on and turn off a camera," said law enforcement activist Norris Henderson.

Council members were assured that new servers to store camera images will help, and the interim chief said he would discipline officers who failed to turn the cameras on.

"If you don't use it, you will force me to be the chief of police," said Harrison.

The Landrieu administration says it would like to spend the money soon, and has asked the council to put approval on a fast track.

In addition to the $4 million going to the NOPD, the city has also proposed giving an extra $2.6 million to pay for court-ordered firefighter fire pension benefits. Firefighters say it's not enough in the face of a $17 million court order.

"Y'all not doing what the judge ordered," said Terry Hampton with the firefighters' association. "You're just kicking the can another month."

The city is also proposing to use an extra $1.2 million for the mental health care of Orleans Parish inmates being housed at the Hunt Correctional Center.

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