Ron Faucheux: Questions to ask N.O. police chief candidates

Ron Faucheux: Has New Orleans hit rock bottom on crime?
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Selecting the next police chief of New Orleans is a critical decision. As the search continues, here is a list of questions that should be asked of the 27 remaining applicants by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the organization conducting the search, and the New Orleans City Council, which will vote to confirm the next chief:

What is your vision for the NOPD’s future? Your top two or three goals to accomplish? Your plan to increase public confidence in the department?

As chief, who would you consider to be your boss: the mayor or the people of New Orleans? Explain.

Does the administration of Mayor LaToya Cantrell have a crime reduction strategy? If so, what is it? Is it working?

As chief, you will work with the mayor on numerous policy and operational matters. How do you envision this relationship? Before you accept the job, what understanding will you reach with the mayor about your role in the decision process and your authority as chief?

Last year, New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation. Violent crime is eating away the fabric of our community. What lessons can we learn from other cities that have attacked this problem?

The number of police officers has dropped to the low 900s. How many officers do we need to provide adequate citywide protection?

Retention and recruitment of police officers are severe problems. How will you solve them and how long will it take? Please be specific.

A poll of rank-and-file officers by the Fraternal Order of Police found that a lack of fair promotion and assignment processes were the major causes of retention problems. What’s the quickest way to implement a solution? How can a police chief safeguard the department against nepotism, cronyism and political interference?

Transparency — what is your commitment to making public detailed information related to officer recruitment and attrition? NOPD management structure — how would you change it, if at all? Police districts — should they be redrawn to facilitate better coverage of every area of the city? Are you satisfied with the level of training new officers now receive?

Do you think the Louisiana State Police, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department or other local law enforcement agencies should do more to temporarily assist the NOPD with certain functions? If so, which functions?

Do you favor the “broken windows” approach to law enforcement?

Average police response times almost tripled, from 51 minutes in 2019 to 146 minutes last year — which is much worse than other cities. Is there an immediate solution, and what is it?

How would you prevent car jackings, thefts and break-ins? Should this be a major priority of the department?

Law enforcement experts say the more investigators present at a crime scene, the more likely crimes will be solved and perpetrators will be brought to justice. Does the NOPD have enough investigators and, if not, how many more are needed?

Has the Federal Consent Decree lessened police brutality and misconduct? Has it improved the internal culture of the NOPD? Has it made law enforcement more effective? Is it time to end it? With or without the decree, what is your commitment to constitutional policing?

The NOPD has a fellow officer intervention training program called EPIC, which stands for Ethical Policing is Courageous. Do you think the EPIC program is accomplishing its goal of helping to discourage police misconduct? Should the program be kept as is, changed or eliminated? 

Adopt-A-Cop, Mounted Support, K-9 Support, Adopt-A-Block and Night Out — have these programs been effective?

Should police officers be allowed to live outside the city?

How would you use computer analytics, camera and facial recognition technology to better track suspects and solve crimes? Do you think the city’s Real-Time Crime Center is working as intended? If not, what’s lacking?

The next police chief will have a tough job. That’s why he or she must answer the hard questions before appointment and confirmation. New Orleans needs the best we can possibly find.

Ron Faucheux is a nonpartisan political analyst, pollster and writer based in Louisiana. He publishes LunchtimePolitics.com, a nationwide newsletter on polls and public opinion.

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