NOPD Chief Ferguson, Mayor Cantrell lay out plan for addressing city’s crime wave

The plan includes expanding the department’s violent crimes unit, bringing back district task forces, 12-hour patrol shifts and asking the city council to amend or repeal an ordinance limiting the use of facial recognition technology.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 10:08 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As New Orleans grapples with an ongoing wave of violent crime, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson and Mayor LaToya Cantrell held a press conference Wednesday (Feb. 2) to lay out their action plan.

The plan is to continue with and expand on the current plan.

“Broadening that plan to get a different perspective as we move forward given the criminal element that we’re facing right now,” Ferguson said.

Currently, NOPD has the Violent Crimes Abatement and Investigation Team (or VCAIT). Ferguson said the department will use state and federal resources to bolster that unit.

Additionally, Ferguson said he would reimplement district-based task forces, referring to them as “district community action teams.” These units would be proactive in their policing, with specific missions given to them by their district captains.

Ferguson said he originally disbanded these forces in 2020 due to supervisory concerns.

“That will increase, in my opinion, visibility within our community, it will also reduce our response time for calls for service,” he said.

Ferguson said he’s considering 12-hour patrol shifts for officers, which is one of the ideas Police Association of New Orleans President Mike Glasser suggested in a recent city council meeting.

Glasser said, as far as the district-based task forces are concerned, he’s skeptical NOPD has the manpower to create those units.

“I don’t know how he plans to staff these enhanced units with diminishing resources, I don’t know how that’s gonna happen,” Glasser said. “State and federal partners, they have their own staffing problems.”

“I think there’s some ambitious things that were hopeful, but hope is not a plan,” he added.

Currently, NOPD said they have 1,054 commissioned officers.

But Glasser said when you take into account officers that are off the streets on administrative and disciplinary leave, or off on medical leave, that number is really in the 900s.

Glasser said there are deep-rooted, departmental issues that contribute to the constant attrition.

“An overzealous public integrity unit, the consent decree constraints, a lack of future job potential past the third or fourth year mark on the job, and the promotional system which we feel is problematic and illegal,” he said.

In addition to the resources he said will be deployed, Ferguson added that he and Mayor Cantrell are pushing city council to amend or repeal an ordinance passed in 2020 limiting NOPD’s use of video surveillance technology.

“What we’re seeing from these brazen criminals, of every age, they’re relentless,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “They’re vicious. [They] show us themselves on social media platforms every single day. So I’m asking for everyone to be more vigilant.”

Cantrell called on the criminal justice system to hold offenders accountable for their crimes, without naming anyone specifically she feels is dropping the ball.

Ferguson did not give a timeline for when any of these initiatives would be implemented.

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