Statistics Show New Orleans Police Focus on Minor Crimes

The New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission has revealed that arrests during 2009 reached a three year high though the focus of police action appears to still be on minor crimes. The New Orleans Police Department made 59,974 arrests last year. Of that total, 7,945 were for felony crimes. The majority of arrests were for traffic offenses, like license violations and speeding. Arrests for driving while intoxicated in New Orleans amounted to 2% of the arrests made in Orleans Parish.

The MCC contends that the figures show the police department is wasting resources with little benefit. While convictions for violent felonies have more than doubled, this has been credited to better communications between NOPD and the Orleans Parish DA’s office. The number of arrests for petty municipal offenses, like public intoxication and disturbing the peace, has gone down though the types of overall arrests still show a strategy of quantity or quality.

The MCC advocates the issuance of tickets or summonses for lesser crimes, allowing officers to remain on patrol for more serious offenses. The NOPD Superintendent agrees that the department could be more efficient but says that some arrests for seemingly minor offenses are necessary.

Another issue the NOPD is facing is the time involved with arresting people with warrants or for traffic offenses who are from neighboring parishes. Of the 20,514 arrested for an out-of-parish warrant, 67% were released within a day or two when other jurisdictions would not pick up the arrestees. A new law being waiting for the governor’s signature would allow officers to issue court summonses to out-of-parish offenders. This is expected to tens of thousands of law enforcement manhours for more targeted crime prevention.

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