US Senator John Kennedy thinks he’s found the way to reduce crime in New Orleans, but the police chief has other ideas. Kennedy said in a news release this week that he secured a promise that the potential FBI director will help The Big Easy.
He said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu implemented a hiring freeze on NOPD in 2014, and he hasn’t kept his promise to hire 150 new officers since then. One of his recommendations is to up the number of officers in the force.
“We’re not being aggressive enough in New Orleans to get control of crime. I mean, shootings are up 60 percent over last year,” Kennedy said.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison says understaffing is certainly a problem, but not one unique to New Orleans. But he says they won’t lower their standards just to get more cops on the streets. He says the department is working to address the problem with a new pay raise plan.
“This new pay plan that we’ve unveiled is about retaining the great qualified that are here with the department, which would stem the attrition rate while we bring in new people,” Harrison said.
Harrison says if Kennedy wants to help, he can certainly give the NOPD more grant money to hire more officers. Another idea of Kennedy’s is for the NOPD to adopt a “stop, question, and frisk” policy. Harrison calls that profiling, but Kennedy disagrees.
“They say it’s racial profiling. No it’s not. It’s not racial profiling. It’s perfectly permissible under the constitution,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy says law enforcement can question anyone if they have “reasonable suspicion,” even if there’s no probable cause. Harrison says his officers do question people every day and night on the basis reasonable suspicion, and they’re seeing results.
“We do that, and to that point we’ve demonstrated more gun seizures and arrests this year than this same time last year, more narcotics seizures and arrests compared to last year,” Harrison said.
The US Senator also suggested NOPD partner with surrounding agencies. Harrison says they do work with their federal counterparts and neighboring departments, but those agencies have their own work to do.