The watchdog group, Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC), released a report Wednesday that concludes that the steady decline in the number of felony arrests made by the NOPD over the past 18 months is likely the result of a police manpower shortage and not because crime is down.
"The NOPD is at a 35-year low from a staffing standpoint," says Metro Crime Commission chief Rafael Goyeneche. "There's simply not enough police officers to respond to the calls for service."
Goyeneche points to crime statistics for the first six months of 2013, which show crime was up about 3%, yet arrests have fallen 15%.
Goyeneche tells 99.5FM a policy decision was made to not hire new officers, which has led to the size of the force we have today, about 1,200 officers.
"It has created, I believe, a public safety issue that it's gonna take this city years to rebuild the numbers necessary in the police department to adequately police the city," Goyeneche said.
The good news, says Goyeneche, is that the city plans to hire 150 new officers in 2014 which, if successful, will likely generate more arrests as those officers are deployed.