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NOPD experiences shortages during Mardi Gras season

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 14:02

ZACH BRIEN/ Staff Photographer

ZACH BRIEN/ Staff Photographer

Three NOPD officers stand guard before the Krewe of Pontchartrain parade on St. Charles Avenue. The NOPD is down 400 officers since 2010.

With fewer police officers in the city, the New Orleans Police Department hopes to keep crime under control this Mardi Gras season.

According to the NOPD’s 2014 proposed budget plan, there are nearly 400 less officers on the force since May 2010.

Paul Noel, second district police commander, said the police department has been trying to deal with this decrease in police officers over the past couple of months leading up to parade season.

“We’ve definitely gotten shorter. Our man power has decreased over the years like everywhere else throughout the city,” Noel said.

Police recruitment has been a priority for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and police department superintendent, Ronal Serpas. In a press release issued by the department on Jan. 14, Landrieu said he was optimistic about the 150 police recruits that attended an event put on by the department.

“This recruitment event allowed us to target local and qualified candidates to apply for the 150 positions that will now be available through the city’s 2014 budget commitment,” Landrieu said.

However, as the city prepares for one of its biggest holidays, some students have concerns about the protection that the police will be able to offer.

Maura Vananzo, mass communication sophomore, said she regularly attends parades during the Mardi Gras season, but notices that crime is often a problem this time of year.

“Crime is for sure an issue during Mardi Gras,” Vananzo said. “Last year, at one of the first parades, my phone and my friend’s wallet were stolen. The amount of crime worries me.”

Noel said that the decrease in officers would mean fewer officers being deployed on the parade routes than last year. He said he believes that the department has a plan in place that has been a successful operation over the last few Mardi Gras seasons.

“I have confidence that we can have enough police officers on the route to cover what we need to cover, do what we need to do and make sure everybody stays safe,” Noel said.

He said he believes that students could avoid criminal activity by staying in well-lit areas during and after parades.

“The main thing that concerns us is after the parades we see students walking back to campus any which way — walking down side streets and taking their time,” Noel said. “If they are going to walk back, which we don’t recommend, they should stay on St. Charles Avenue, which is well-lit and safe.”

Asia Alvarado can be reached at ajalvara@loyno.edu 

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