NOPD’s manpower issues are well documented as is the impact of those issues on how NOPD polices and response times. I thought it would be interesting, therefore, to take a closer look at the specific changes that have occurred in response to falling manpower. In order to do this analysis I need a before and an after source. Present manpower totals are easy to come by thanks to NOPD’s MAX. The ‘Personnel Data’ tab has NOPD’s manpower report from January 2017 which shows the department has 1,051 commissioned officers at present.
Finding an older manpower report was tougher. NOPD lost 28.6 percent of its commissioned strength between the start of 2010 and present, so ideally it would be possible to measure manpower as it stood in 2010. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any such information from 2010, but I was able to find a 2013 manpower report from a 2014 Inspector General report on NOPD staffing.
That report provided manpower data from May 2013 which showed NOPD with 1,217 commissioned officers at that time. So NOPD has lost 13.6 percent of its force in the 44 months since that report was taken.
With before (during?) and after data available I could finally begin to assess what parts of NOPD have taken the biggest hit from the manpower decline. I did not match up every unit from 2013 to 2017 but did compare staffing in each of NOPD’s districts as well as a handful of units of importance. The results are in the below table.
Each district has lost officers with the 6th District suffering the largest total and percent change. Some units have grown or been mostly unchanged, such as NOPD’s Violent Offenders Warrant Squad (V.O.W.S), the K-9, and NOPD’s sex crimes unit. Other units, such as homicide and the Street Gang Unit, have taken big hits.
Two big takeaways I get from this exercise:
- It’s no surprise that response times remain worse than they were a few years ago. While NOPD has grown a bit and has added officers to the districts the additions still leave every district short on manpower relative to where it was just four years ago.
- The effect on NOPD’s homicide unit and Street Gang Unit should not be understated. The drop in NOPD’s murder clearance rate can be directly attributed to a loss of manpower, and the Street Gang Unit’s drop in manpower has undoubtedly lessened their ability to attack violent offenders citywide.
It would obviously be nice to be able to compare manpower reports from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 to see how things have changed, but this is a good start at understanding specifically how the drop in manpower has challenged NOPD’s capabilities.