NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Fifty-four more NOPD officers hit the streets Sunday as part of a major restructuring effort within the department. Supt. Michael Harrison says the goal is to reduce response times, but some community activists say much more still needs to be done.
"The goal is to respond to an emergency call, life in danger, perpetrator on the scene, to get there in about seven minutes, 90 percent of the time," Supt. Harrison said Sunday.
That's what Chief Harrison would like to see now. Just a few months ago, a FOX 8 Lee Zurik Investigation revealed in 2015, some residents were forced to wait up to 13 hours for cops to show up after 911 was called. In fact, we found the average wait time to be one hour, 13 minutes.
"We really found the issue was at shift change in most of the districts," Harrison said.
That's why 54 officers have been re-assigned, some from administrative positions, others who were doing clerical work, all sent to the streets.
"If you see a street where there's a police officer, more than likely you're not going to try anything. Anything that's proactive that helps reduce crime is a good thing," New Orleans resident Anne Lacourregge said.
By and large, residents we spoke to, are optimistic the re-allocation of resources will help the city's crime problem.
"I think it's a great thing. Any time you see the police out in the streets, it's comforting for the neighbors. You know the response time will probably be quicker," resident Ken Stein said.
Others, who track crime, like Lakeview Citizen Watch founder Gino Ascani, have doubts.
"Fifty-four officers spread in every single district is not that many officers added per district," Ascani said.
Ascani says he'd prefer a more creative approach, with just some officers working the street, others monitoring surveillance cameras in real time, to help catch criminals. He thinks it would cut out the need for residents to call 911. But for now, the department will stick to more boots on the ground; some of whom, haven't been out on the street in years.
"Change is not easy and it's not always very welcome. We've haven't heard much push back. I believe by and large the officers understand what we're doing," Harrison said.
By April, the second phase of this effort will be underway, adding 40 more officers to street patrols, once civilians are hired to take over their current positions.
On April 24th, 28 recruits will finish field training and begin patrols. Harrison says the department is committed to changing the way people view the NOPD and their perception of crime and safety in New Orleans.