NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu along with New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas, New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Timothy McConnell, New Orleans EMS Director Dr. Jeff Elder and City officials highlighted early signs of progress on the city’s public safety efforts and showcased new, state-of-the-art public safety equipment and technology for the City's law enforcement agencies. Today’s announcement is an example of Mayor Landrieu’s commitment to invest in public safety across the city and to raise the expectation of the public safety agencies by introducing more resources, better facilities, and increased transparency in 2014.
“Public safety is our top priority, and we are making progress,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The statistics show that the number of murders in New Orleans is the lowest in over 30 years. But I’m not satisfied, and we are working every day to make sure everyone feels safe in New Orleans. On top of that, I am committed to investing in our first responders to make sure they are working with the best equipment and resources available to protect and serve our city’s residents.”
Since taking office in 2010, Mayor Landrieu has worked with the City Council each year to increase the budgets for the City’s public safety agencies. The 2014 budget increased funding for all public safety agencies, including NOPD, NOFD and EMS, and make significant commitments to the city’s support first responders.
With the 2014 budget, the City will increase the number of recruit classes from two in 2013 to five this year, resulting in 150 new police officers on the streets. The City will also direct $300,000 to the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation to fund an aggressive recruitment campaign to attract New Orleans’ best and brightest to the police force. Since the launch of a new online application, the first 2014 recruitment class has received 360 applications from eligible applicants, setting a record high of new application submissions since 2009.
New resources, technology and equipment announced today included:
Five new NOPD recruit classes, which will train 150 new officers
100 hundred new police vehicles, in addition to the 100 new vehicles added in 2013
420 officer body cameras
50 new NOPD motorcycles
Digital audio recorders to translate foreign languages in the field
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas said, "I'm incredibly proud and appreciative of the work the men and women of this Department do every day. They have chosen this profession, and are trained to walk toward dangerous situations and to protect others at their own risk. The announcement today that they will have body-worn cameras is welcomed news as it means they'll have a new tool that records an accurate account of their work. And that will benefit residents as well as officers."
The 2014 budget also includes a nearly $12 million investment in the NOPD consent decree to completely transform the NOPD, including funding for in-car computer systems, in-car camera systems, digital audio recorders, training supplies, and the court appointed police monitor.
Although not required by the consent decree, the 2014 budget funds 420 body cameras for officers. These body cameras will eliminate “he said, she said” disputes and help the officers perform their jobs with more transparency and accountability.
New Orleans Firefighters are now working with improved firefighting protective equipment, including new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA). This equipment is essential for allowing firefighters to operate in hostile fire ground environments. The New Orleans Fire Department purchased 282 SCBAs in 2013 using a Federal Port Security Grant, saving the City $2.4 million.
New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Timothy McConnell said, “We’re proud to have been able to secure equipment that will ensure enhanced public safety service for the citizens of New Orleans while decreasing the pressures of budget limitations. The NOFD will continue to utilize both public and private funding sources to provide our firefighters with the best equipment available.”
New resources, technology and equipment highlighted today included:
282 new Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA);
1 Mobile Command Vehicle;
1 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Rescue Boat;
1 CBRN Response Vehicle and Thermal Imaging Cameras
New Orleans EMS
New Orleans EMS added 20 new state-of-the-art Braun ambulances to its fleet of emergency vehicles in mid-2013. The ambulances allow first responders to continue to provide the best emergency care and transport possible to New Orleans residents and visitors.
“2013 was hugely successful for New Orleans EMS,” said Dr. Jeff Elder, Director, New Orleans EMS. “The men and women of New Orleans EMS handled medical response extremely well throughout the year and during major events like the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras. We were able to show the world why our division was voted as the best paid EMS service in the nation.”
New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
In 2013, the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness completed a major update of the all-hazards Comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan (CEOP), which ensures preparedness and coordination with regional, state, and federal partners. New equipment purchases included a duty vehicle and state-of-the-art computers to improve situational awareness in the Mobile Command and Emergency Operations Center.
Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed said, “In 2013, we implemented new ways to manage disasters, including the use of an advanced emergency alert system and development of a citywide situational awareness platform. These innovations represent best practices in terms of public safety.”
The Office of Homeland Security also received top honors from the Bureau of Governmental Research for Innovation Excellence in Government for the citywide alert systems, including the development, content and design of NOLA Ready.
Since taking office in 2010, the Landrieu Administration has performed nearly $46 million in facility upgrades. The City is currently in the middle of renovations and/or construction at several major NOPD, NOFD and EMS facilities.
Major upgrades to NOPD sites include, Fifth District Station in St. Claude, NOPD stables and temporary stables in City Park, Seventh District Station in New Orleans East, Sixth District Station in Central City, Special Operations Division in St. Thomas and Third District Station at the Fairgrounds.
Eight NOFD stations have been renovated or are currently under construction across the city including, Engine 10 in Little Woods, Engine 26 in Mid-City, Engine 31 in Lake Catherine, Engine 40 in Algiers and Engine 22 and 39 in the Lower Ninth Ward.
The new $15 million Coroner’s Complex and EMS Headquarters is currently under construction in B.W. Cooper. The two-story EMS headquarters includes a partially covered vehicle staging area for restocking ambulances with medical supplies.
Focusing on Public Safety
Mayor Landrieu held five community meetings in each council district, and in each meeting, residents cited public safety as a top priority. Following those meetings and several public hearings throughout the budget process, the City Council unanimously approved the 2014 budget that protected public safety and increased the budgets for NOPD, NOFD and EMS.
“Public Safety was the most important priority to the City Council in our budget process this year,” said Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. “We made these commitments with the administration because our citizens deserve the best. We are so proud to deliver on this commitment to the public!”
District A Councilmember Susan G. Guidry said, “As Chair of the Council’s Criminal Justice Committee, I am very encouraged by the improvements we are seeing with respect to public safety. A twenty percent drop in murders is an indication that Mayor Landrieu’s NOLA for Life violence reduction strategy is having a real impact on violent crime. We are now seeing an unprecedented level of collaboration and cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement. And for the first time, we are making real front-end investments in the lives and futures of our disadvantaged and at-risk youth. We must continue moving forward with our strategy, while making improvements where needed, so that we can sustain this success and continue to drive our violent crime numbers down.”
"The reforms and long-term investments in technology that we have made in law enforcement are paying off, and we are seeing the results in the reduced murder rate," said District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell. "But one murder is one too many, and we need to continue improving efforts to make New Orleans a safe and healthy city that offers positive opportunities to all of our residents."
“It’s critical for us to all work together to increase the number of officers and the quality of those officers we hire,” said District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell. “That means actively recruiting new police officers and making a commitment to getting our city the best and the brightest available.”