NOPD calling on HANO, other agencies more frequently

Published: Jan. 30, 2015 at 2:08 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2015 at 2:34 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Police say it's happening more and more: To try and make up for a manpower shortage, officers needing backup are calling for help from a number of agencies, including officers from the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

HANO officers - armed and fully commissioned - assisted on two calls in the Ninth Ward on Tuesday night, one on North Roman Street and another on Tricou Street.

"It's pretty good. They can't be everywhere, but they try," said resident Derrick Johnson, talking about the NOPD.

"We need enforcement down here too," said Ninth Ward resident Norman Bartholomew.

Agencies like HANO, UNO, SUNO, Xavier and Tulane have signed agreements with the NOPD to provide assistance when needed. The NOPD has given some of those agencies their own radios to help a department that's about 500 officers short of what it was 10 years ago.

"Never in my career, which ended in 2001, did we need to rely on an outside agency," said former officer and current Police Association of New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler. He says it's a sign of the times for the NOPD. "It tells me what we've been knowing all along. We're drastically undermanned, to the point public safety is suffering and police officer safety is suffering."

Current and former HANO officers tell us they don't mind assisting NOPD, because NOPD often helps them. And they don't believe leaving the housing developments jeopardizes security.

" I see 'em come and go, but I don't think it's a problem," said Johnson.

Officers from outside agencies are used as backup, assisting police in chases or helping to establish perimeters for searches and crime scenes.

"HANO is a very good partner, and they always have been," said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison.

"These officers will save lives, but it should have never gotten to this point," said Hessler.

Lower Ninth Ward residents are concerned.

"We're gonna bring in 150 more policemen to police up the Quarters, what about us as neighbors? We're residents and taxpayers too," said Bartholomew.

HANO spokeswoman Leslie Thomas says the arrangement with the NOPD is mutually beneficial.

"We have a memorandum of understanding that officially transitions us from a security force to a police force to supplement and assist the NOPD," she said.

And she said the arrangement does not infringe on security inside the city's housing developments.

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