- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A new city inspector general’s report finds the New Orleans Police Department is doing a poor job of accounting for how well it spends the roughly $170 million it gets each year and cannot prove it needs to hire hundreds of new police officers who will cause the budget to balloon even more.

The report by inspector general’s report, one of a series of reports auditing New Orleans’ troubled criminal justice system, called on the police force to do a better job of showing how it spends the money it gets and what is being accomplished with that money.

City officials disputed the inspector general’s findings released Tuesday, saying that under Mayor Mitch Landrieu the city has implemented data-driven policing and given the public more access to data.

The report by Ed Quatrevaux, the inspector general, questioned the city’s push to beef up police ranks to 1,600 officers, a 45 percent increase over December 2014 staffing levels.

The NOPD and Landrieu have called hiring more officers a top priority in the city’s strategy to fight crime.

But Quatrevaux questioned this assumption.

“This significant policy decision raises an important question: is there evidence that the increase in police spending due to hiring hundreds of additional officers would result in better public safety outcomes?” the report asked.

The report said that answering that question cannot be done accurately without more work to tie spending to performance measurements.

Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said he “strongly disagreed” with the inspector general’s findings and said the department does a good job of compiling and tracking data on police response times, arrests, conviction rates and workloads.

The Landrieu administration has made using data a centerpiece to efforts to reduce crime in New Orleans. But those efforts to bring data to bear on policing, according to the inspector general’s report, have not been adequate enough and should be strengthened.

The report said that budget problems across the nation are forcing “cities to get smart on crime, which means holding police accountable for their performance and demanding police strategies proven effective.”

The report urged the NOPD to do even more to use “scientific evidence” in its policing priorities and “collect and analyze data that demonstrate those strategies are working.”

The report noted that the NOPD faces steep costs to comply with a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree to bring the department in line with constitutional requirements. Those requirements are expected to cost $50 million by 2018, the report said.


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