Police Forced to Hire Civilians in Crime-Ridden City
(UnitedVoice.com) – Millions of people visit New Orleans every year to experience the unforgettable atmosphere. Many know the town for its jazz, beignets, historic buildings, and a massive problem with crime. In early September, the southern city became the murder capital of the United States.
In addition to the crime, Crescent City is suffering from a police shortage. Officials have now decided to handle the problem creatively. Not everyone is on board with the new plan, though.
Hello, Mr. Not-An-Officer
On Thursday, September 22, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson announced the city would hire civilians to respond to specific calls. He said operators would dispatch them to scenes that don’t necessarily require a police officer. Between 50 to 75 residents could attend to certain medical emergencies, forgeries, collecting preliminary evidence, some thefts, and securing loose pets.
The civilians will also be able to issue citations, monitor Mardi Gras activities, and work other festivals that come to the Big Easy. According to NPR, Ferguson stated the goal is to “reduce some of the workload” on police officers and other personnel. He also hopes it will “reduce response time and address the [city’s] backlogs.”
The shortage of officers has been a hot topic for quite some time in NOLA. More than 100 cops turned in their badges in the first seven months of 2022. In June, the department employed 989 officers, but officials expected the number to fall to 898 by the end of the year. The shortfall reflects more than 600 fewer than the 1,500 cops needed to keep New Orleans safe. Earlier in the summer, the city council provided $1 million extra to help with recruitment efforts.
In addition to hiring civilians, officials have changed the hiring process. The city won’t ask applicants whether they’ve ever smoked marijuana or check their credit scores. Ferguson encouraged people to reapply if officials had rejected them in the past.
Mayoral Candidate Expresses Concerns
Laura Rodrigue, a mayoral candidate, spoke to “Fox & Friends” after the announcement and said, “hiring civilians to respond to crime scenes is alarming.” She pointed out that dispatchers would classify more than 100 first-degree rape calls received in 2021 as non-emergencies, allowing citizens to respond and direct evidence collection. Rodrigue told the television hosts people should be concerned about civilians potentially taking “a case or a call that comes in for something serious” by mistake.
How do you feel about the city’s decision?
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