New Orleans, La. – Mayor Landrieu says city police will work in conjunction with prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies to reduce the crime rate that he says is unnaturally high. Standing with the police chief, sheriff, district attorney, U-S attorney and others, he said last year's murder rate of 175 people is virtually unchanged from 2009.
"Although we're all happy that we're working better together, at the end of the day, crime's got to go down. And not withstanding the fact that things are jelling better than they did before, as long as crime stays at that level, and the city of New Orleans is not safe, then we've got a problem. And so we are acknowledging that and the point is that we're on it like gravy on rice."
Police Chief Ronal Serpas says 50 additional officers will be hired. Backlogs are being cleared on old cases and high-ranking officers will do shifts on the streets, including himself.
"We're looking forward to building the department from the bottom. Reorganizing the culture of a police department takes several steps. The way you hire, the way you train, the way you in-service train, the way you promote and the way you discipline. And we're going through those processes every single day in a new way as we go into 2011 and beyond."
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro says the public must be part of the process by not only helping police identify suspects, but testifying when cases come to trial.
"It's all about the community having confidence in us, having confidence in the police department and wanting to do the right thing to get the bad guy off the street."
Serpas says that starting this month, police will triple the number of officers serving warrants on repeat offenders.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming