About 80 percent of the officers have been left homeless and are now living on a cruise ship in the harbor. Some of their stations are in ruins, hundreds of their squad cars are now nothing more than rusting scrap metal, and much of the civilian support staff has been laid off. And rumors of pay cuts and layoffs for the officers themselves are eating away at what little morale the overworked and underpaid force may have left.His ideas? They make sense to me:
1. Hire a recognized leader to head the department. Just as an ailing LAPD reached out to former New York police commissioner William Bratton in 2002, New Orleans needs to commence a nationwide search for a police professional of sufficient stature and reputation to take on the monumental task at hand. Once installed, the new superintendent should be given a free hand in moving personnel to fit his needs. He should also be free to hire a command staff from outside the city as well. The salaries offered should be commensurate with the challenge; the current salary for an assistant superintendent on the NOPD is only $62,096 a year, less than a sergeant earns on many big-city departments.Will Mayor Nagin do these things? I doubt it. He has blamed everyone but himself for what went wrong so far...
2. Reward the officers who endured the hardships of Katrina, and fire those who didn’t. There should be no place in the department for any officer who abandoned his post when the city and his fellow officers needed him most. If the deserters aren’t dealt with harshly, they’ll be a cancer in the department for as long as they are allowed to remain.
3. Eliminate the residency requirement for police officers... If the residency requirement was enacted to ensure that the police department was a true reflection of the city’s population, they got what they asked for. Today there are several former New Orleans police officers doing time for murder, including one who in 1995 killed her own former partner during a robbery. Many, many others have been convicted of lesser crimes.
4. Hire officers at all ranks from other agencies. The best police officers revel in confronting challenges, and today there is no greater challenge in law enforcement than the one facing New Orleans...
5. Institute a realistic disaster plan for the city. New Orleans had elaborate plans for dealing with the predicted flooding, none of which were followed... The next flood could come as soon as tomorrow. The time to prepare for it is today.
And if you can't admit there's a problem, it won't get fixed.