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.

The New Orleans Police Department evidence room has tightened controls since $200,000 went missing five years ago.

But an Inspector General’s report finds some evidence in criminal cases remains at "high risk of theft or misplacement."

The 29-page report found the evidence room is plagued by a lack of documentation, poor record-keeping and vague guidelines.

It says staff members fail to conduct inventories each year and whenever a key-holder position changes. The report says that violates best practices and NOPD policy. 

New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison has placed five officers on administrative reassignment while an investigation is made into their actions as detectives in the Special Victims Section.

The Public Integrity Bureau is investigating each officer based on an Office of Inspector General inquiry.

The Inspector General report found evidence suggesting the officers weren't doing their job. Specifically – they’re accused of labeling sex crimes as “miscellaneous” and following up on only a fraction of those cases.

Civilians will soon be helping to keep the peace in the French Quarter.

The New Orleans City Council okayed an arrangement with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau to start the program called “NOLA Patrol.”

The New Orleans Advocate reports a voluntary hotel tax will raise $1.6 million this year and $2.3 million next year to pay for the service.

The money will fund unarmed civilian patrols to enforce traffic, zoning and other neighborhood rules. It’s hoped they will give more time for regular police officers to handle more serious matters.

The New Orleans City Council is rethinking the idea of using unarmed citizen patrols in the French Quarter.

Some businesses in the city’s premier tourist destination want to know why actual police officers aren’t being hired.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu wanted to use voluntary hotel taxes to fund the patrols. The civilian officers would handle non-emergency matters, in theory — easing the workload for regular officers.

But several businesses are questioning why the city wouldn’t spend $2.3 million in annual revenue to hire fully qualified police officers.

New Orleans now has a permanent police chief.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced that interim Superintendent Michael Harrison officially has the top job.

Landrieu made the announcement at an Algiers event marking the Night Out Against Crime.

Harrison was promoted in August when Superintendent Ronal Serpas retired. Landrieu said at that time that Harrison would likely get the job permanently.

Harrison is a 23-year veteran of the force. He had most recently been district commander of the 7th District.

nola.agent / Flickr

After seven years without a raise, New Orleans police officers should be given a 20 percent across-the-board pay hike, according to a staff recommendation to the Civil Service Commission. The staff report was seven months in the making.  

The Lens reports that New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux sees a big flaw in the analysis — it doesn’t factor in pension costs.

Sloane Kelley / Flickr

New Orleans police say a third person believed to be linked to the weekend shooting of a police officer at a sandwich shop has been taken into custody.

Police said 26-year-old James Wilson surrendered to Plaquemines Parish authorities on Monday and was transferred to New Orleans custody for questioning.

Two others who police say were suspects in the shooting were found in Gretna hours after the Sunday incident. One of them was dead. The other was suffering from a gunshot wound. He was booked with attempted first-degree murder.

New Orleans police have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the shooting of an officer early Sunday morning.

Police say 34-year-old Cornelius Barthelemy was found shot once in the torso in a Ford Expedition in Gretna about 8 a.m. yesterday, along with an unidentified dead man.

They say that while Barthelemy was being treated at a hospital, he told police he was involved in the shooting.

He says he was one of three men shown in surveillance video of the shooting of 44-year-old Officer Jonathan Smith around 1:40 a.m. Sunday at a New Orleans restaurant.