NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Residents in New Orleans East and the Lower Ninth Ward were able to talk with NOPD about the biggest crime issues in their area Thursday night.
NOPD leadership updated crime trends and answered citizens questions, part of a workshop created by District E Councilmember Cyndi Nguyen.
Superintendent Shaun Ferguson opened up the meeting with the issue of manpower.
“This occupation has become a difficult one for many to want to take on a challenge,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson reports NOPD has 1,164 officers, down from last year and losing 22 this year alone.
The goal for 2020 was to have four classes but COVID only allowed for three. This year’s goal is three classes with around 30 officers each.
District E residents were concerned with how many of those new officers would be coming to the East.
“I have been intentionally trying to ensure that the 7th District is receiving more officers and that is why 7th District have more officers than any other district at this point in time,” Ferguson said.
The 7th District is down in overall crime by 13 percent. Especially auto burglaries which are only a third of what they were this time last year, but violent crime is still up.
“We have 36 armed robberies so far this year compared to 18. At this time last year, 21, non-fatal shootings this year compared to 14 last year,” 7th District Captain Nick Gernon said.
Over half of those violent crimes have been solved. Gernon says it’s a lot of the same people committing the crimes and a lot of them are juveniles. He says cooperation is also a challenge.
“We’ve had two shootings so far this year where young people, 16, 17-year-olds show up at the hospital, shot, and they won’t even tell where they were shot at,” Gernon said.
Shootings and auto theft are up over in the 5th District. Half of the district’s stolen vehicles are from the Lower 9th Ward, according to Captain Regina Williams, but with the help of State Police, they’re clearing cases with DNA and other evidence.
“We have made some significant arrests of juvenile subjects in the Lower 9th Ward area for stolen vehicles,” Williams said. “We had a decrease in our stolen vehicles, of course, once the subjects were released we saw a slight increase in stolen vehicles.”
How to address the crime epidemic among young people took up a lot of the conversation. NOPD leadership spoke to their efforts of getting social services involved when they can and trying to put out the fire before it burns their future.
“Instead of addressing the crime now, we address though underlying issues that these kids are involved with, whether it be problems at school, problems at home and maybe we can work out a way to fix that because a lot of it is social issues that they’re dealing with,” Community Engagement Sergeant Merrell Merrick said.
Ferguson said overall crime across New Orleans is actually down 28 percent this year. Auto burglaries are also down. Ferguson said the biggest challenges remain homicides, non-fatal shootings and armed robberies.
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