NOPD

Frustration was the general message at a Central City meeting with residents and federal monitors reviewing reforms at the New Orleans Police Department. Most of the speakers say the process is too slow.

Christy Lorio / The Driftwood

This story has been, and will be, updated.

The University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus and the campus of Benjamin Franklin High School are is under a lockdown order as police search for a car theft suspect.

New Orleans' most visited neighborhood rarely sees the type of violent crime that plagues other parts of the city. Recently, several high-profile robberies have rattled the region and led to criticism of the police department and the mayor, both of whom are rethinking safety measures.

Over the next few weeks, more and more visitors will roam the city's famous French Quarter, drinks in hand, for Mardi Gras. In less than 2 square miles, the French Quarter combines hotels, restaurants, street performers, and all-night bars with historic homes and tight-knit neighbors.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu welcomed a new class of police recruits and praised them for taking the challenge to don a police badge in one of the nation's most crime-plagued cities.

The new class begins its 10 months of training as crime spikes in the French Quarter and the New Orleans Police Department struggles with a shortage of officers on the streets.

Landrieu spoke to the 30 recruits today at the start of their first day of tough physical training at a training facility in eastern New Orleans.

Residents and businesses in the French Quarter will be holding a rally Tuesday in Jackson Square, calling for more police protection. 

They want action by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey and New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison.

Landrieu asked Governor Bobby Jindal on Friday to send troopers to support the city while it works to fill vacancies in police department ranks.

The head of state police tells Nola.com/The Times-Picayune that option would leave other parts of the state short-handed.

The New Orleans Police Department set out this year to show that the city's 2013 homicide numbers, the lowest in nearly three decades, were not a fluke.

The New Orleans Advocate reports that as of late Wednesday afternoon, New Orleans had recorded 150 homicides in 2014. That’s a marginal decrease from the 156 counted in 2013. Officials say it is encouraging sign.

Homicides fell 19 percent from 2012 to 2013.

City leaders say they had not aimed to reduce the city's murder rate by any specific percentage in 2014.

French Quarter residents are warning people to walk in groups to avoid violent crime.

They posted signs in the neighborhood that say, “Caution. Walk in Large Groups. We (Heart) NOPD. We Just Need More.”

Police Superintendent Michael Harrison says he’s temporarily assigning an eight-person task force to the Quarter. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says state and federal agencies should contribute more resources. He says the area generates sales tax that benefits the state, and is a national historic district.

New Orleans police training is being slammed for passing on bad behavior.

A report by court-appointed monitors finds recruits are mimicking their predecessors — in a bad way.

The New Orleans Advocate reports monitors found recruits are getting inadequate lesson plans, poor teachers and weak leadership.

The monitors were appointed by the court to oversee reforms detailed in a federal consent decree.

The recruits are expected to refresh and improve the shrunken department.

New Orleans police now say that only about half of more than 400 untested rape kits may need testing.

Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said over the weekend that the department is storing 220 of 429 kits. Most of the stored kits are from people who got tested by medical personnel but declined to press charges.

The untested rape kits were disclosed during a New Orleans City Council hearing last week on failings in the department's handling of rape and child abuse cases.

The embattled New Orleans Police Department sex crimes unit is facing more criticism.

The unit commander tells a city council committee that more than 400 rape kits remain untested.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the announcement comes from Commander Paul Noel. He had been praised in the past for clearing a backlog of 800 kits gathering dust in the evidence room.

But he left that job in 2011. He says the backlog has grown in his absence.

The unit was slammed last month in an Inspector General’s report that found hundreds of cases were not investigated.

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