New Orleans has long had a high homicide and violent crime rate. Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) launched a new crime-fighting plan on January 25, 2012, with the title "SOS: Save Our Sons."
The plan is data-driven, based on policing research across the country, and has three main elements: focus on crime hotspots, leverage all resources, and develop a professional workforce in the NOPD.
RAND has conducted policing and crime research for decades, through the Safety and Justice Program, Center on Quality Policing, and Project Safe Neighborhoods among other efforts. Our findings from research in New Orleans as well as other cities validate the efforts of New Orleans and its police department.
Focus on Crime Hotspots
NOPD's efforts to place a "laser focus on hotspots" includes the use of new technology to enable smarter, targeted crime fighting. They installed software to analyze crimes and crime trends, and to allow for scientific and data-based deployments of police officers. Their software also links NOPD with police in surrounding parishes.
An initiative that successfully reduced gun violence in Boston was adapted for a section of East Los Angeles with prevalent gang activity. Though not implemented as planned, the intervention helped reduce violent and gang crime in the targeted districts, both during and immediately after implementation.
Cost-of-crime and police effectiveness research can be used to measure how changing the size of police departments will affect overall crime costs to society.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a comprehensive, strategic approach to reducing gun violence in America. The program's goals are to increase PSN task force capacity to design strategies for reducing gun violence and to improve the efficiency of collaboration at various levels of government. As a research partner, RAND supports the research and strategic planning components of the initiative.
Leverage All Resources
By "leveraging all resources," NOPD means to work closely with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA), and other federal partners; and develop stronger local and regional partnerships with the District Attorney, surrounding parishes, and the state of Louisiana. NOPD is implementing the BJA's recommendations to develop homicide review teams, engage the community, and improve crime analysis.
In 2006, more than 6 million individuals were victimized by violent crimes. The extent of violence and its impact highlight a critical need to develop and implement effective programs to reduce violence and victimization, and to conduct critical evaluations to inform other violence-reduction programs.
An assessment of the first-year progress of community-policing and violence-prevention programs in Oakland funded by Measure Y found that implementation of community policing has been delayed, but violence-prevention programs have been implemented as planned.
Develop a Professional Workforce
Among the NOPD's goals for developing a professional workforce are to hire and train 30 recruits using an overhauled Academy curriculum consistent with DOJ's Community Oriented Policing Services recommendations; and to retain qualified officers by offering them advancement opportunities and promoting them where appropriate.
Giving junior officers pay raises they already have earned would provide the most immediate boost to the New Orleans Police Department in its effort to slow an exodus of officers that began after Hurricane Katrina hit the city.
The RAND Center for Quality Policing provides research and analysis on contemporary police practice and policy. The Center's work helps law enforcement agencies across the U.S. make better operational decisions and consistently perform at their best.