New Orleans, LA – The federal money will cover salary and benefits for the 16 officers for three years. Superintendent Ronal Serpas says he expects to hire a new class of recruits at the end of this year or early next year.
"When we wrote this grant we made it perfectly clear that the number one priority of this police department of this community is the cessation of this murder rate."
The Justice Department says the murder rate in New Orleans is 10 times the national average. Serpas says he'll interview officers now in the department for positions in the homicide unit, and place the recent graduates as their replacements.
City Councilwoman Stacy Head says she's seeing improved relations between police and residents in her district.
"The people of Central City have started forging a better and better relationship with NOPD. And I'd like to say again, for people who are still nervous, who are still distrustful. Please get over that point because I'm telling you it is changed. It is different. We are seeing the actual results."
Serpas says the plan is allow homicide detectives to become more proactive.
"We want homicide detectives who heretofore are not in the community in this way, to be part of the community before an event happens; to be in the neighborhoods before crimes occur and create a dialogue and create a trusting relationship with who may eventually, unfortunately, when it happens, have to handle a murder."
The department has been slammed in a federal investigation that found blatant constitutional violations. A consent decree is expected to order reforms and judicial oversight.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming