City Responds To Metropolitan Crime Commission Report

NEW ORLEANS — In response to a report issued by the Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC) Wednesday, City officials said the report erroneously links the downward trend in overall arrests to NOPD force size. Instead, City officials said the reduction in arrests is the direct result of smarter policies adopted and implemented by the City over the past five years.

         “We’ve made it our priority to put smart policies in place that allow our officers to use their best discretion to put the right people in jail and aggressively focus their attention on the most dangerous and violent offenders,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison. “For example, officers use summonses when appropriate in place of arrests. This practice holds people accountable for their actions and allows officers to spend more time patrolling our neighborhoods. The MCC report is strong proof that the policy shift, not the size of the NOPD, has purposefully and successfully reduced the number of arrests citywide over the past five years.”

         “New Orleans is the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated country in the world,” said Charles West, director of the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination. “The cycle of incarceration – starting with arrest – is at the root of some of society’s broader, more complex issues playing out right now across the country. Here in New Orleans, we are interrupting that cycle by making fewer unnecessary arrests, implementing a pre-trial services program, working with our criminal justice partners to reduce the amount of time people are awaiting trial in jail and providing wrap-around services and employment opportunities to those returning from incarceration. ”

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         City officials said arrests actually increased 11 percent between 2008 and 2009, but started to decline in 2010 after the implementation of the City’s smarter policing strategies, and that MCC reports credited policy changes by the NOPD for a major reduction in arrests between 2009 – 2011.

         “In 2010 and 2011, the New Orleans criminal justice system experienced large decreases in petty offense arrests coupled with higher felony arrest to conviction rates,” West said. “This policy shift within the Orleans Parish criminal justice system has facilitated an improved utilization of resources that can be expanded further to increase arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of violent and repeat offenders who most threaten public safety. Significant reductions in arrests for minor violations show that the NOPD better emphasized quality over the quantity of arrests in 2011. The NOPD reduced total arrests by 45% from 2009 to 2011 with the largest decreases in arrests for minor offenses including arrests for out of parish misdemeanor warrants and municipal, state misdemeanor and traffic violations.”

         City officials said arrests continue to decline and convictions are getting better. At the same time, overall crime is down citywide eight percent. According to the latest Uniform Crime Report, violent crime, including armed robbery, simple robbery and assault dropped double digits in the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the same time last year. When comparing the first quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2014, overall crime is down 16 percent.

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         Harrison added, “While we continue to grow the NOPD, we are smartly and effectively deploying the resources we have to bring down crime and make our neighborhoods safe.”



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