Supt. Michelle Woodfork also says NOPD is committed to working toward full compliance with federal consent decree
NOPD Interim Supt. Michelle credited the “collective efforts of everybody” for decreases in homicides, non-fatal shootings and carjackings across New Orleans when compared to 2022 stats.
By July 1, 2022 there were 148 murders in New Orleans, compared to 120 murders for the same period this year, marking a 19 percent reduction. Meanwhile, non-fatal shootings also decreased from 303 in the first six months of 2022 to 248 for the first six months of 2023. Supt. Woodfork provided the statistics during her July 7 press conference, where she offered a mid-year update on NOPD’s progress in fighting crime, recruiting officers as well as compliance with the federal consent decree.
Woodfork also announced a 42 percent decrease in carjackings along with a 21 percent in decrease in armed robberies for the same period while touting increases gun confiscations and firearm arrests. There were 225 gun arrests during the first six months of 2022 compared to 473 in the first six months of this year, she said.
“Again crime reduction remains one of my goals as well as that of the men and women of NOPD,” said Woodfork, who credited the department’s increased use of alternative police response or APR program, but came short of attributing the reduction in crime solely to the use of the civilian workers and other professionals, who respond to some non-emergency calls.”
While Woodfork called APR a “very important” support unit, she points to what she describes as the “direct result of absolute accountability” the positive crime stats.
“Collectively everybody has been doing the work,” Woodfork said. “The men and women of the New Orleans Police Department are committed to performing the duties needed to protect and serve the people of New Orleans.”
NOPD still has “a lot of work to do,” however, as it relates combatting property crime, which has increased by 20 percent in the first six months of this year when compared last year, said Woodfork, citing the national trend of the upswing in auto thefts of Kias and Hyundais as a driver for increased property crime rates locally. She added that the department has reached out to the manufacturers of the vehicles in search of solutions while also providing wheel locks to residents to help prevent theft.
Woodfork also praised the combined efforts of NOPD, ATF, the Louisiana State Police, FBI, Homeland Security and the state’s Probation & Parole division in working to reduce crime and increase arrests. Dubbed Operation Golden Eagle 3.0, the effort deploys more law enforcement officers from the various agencies in areas deemed as high crime.
The first women to ever lead NOPD and reportedly one of 33 applicants to apply for the permanent position as the city’s top cop, Woodfork also touched on the federal consent decree, recruiting efforts, as well as efforts to redirect New Orleans youth during the roughly 21-minute press conference that also include a brief question and answer period.
Relative to the consent decree, Woodfork said based on NOPD’s own analysis, the department is 90 percent in compliance with the decree, while noting that DOJ audits report that the NOPD is only 71 percent compliant.
“We will continue to work with the Department of Justice, the monitoring team and the court to reach full compliance,” Woodfork said. “We will continue our efforts and move the department to the self-monitoring stage.”
Woodfork also pointed to stringent enforcement of the summer juvenile curfew as well as programs such as Junior Citizens Police Academy, a partnership with the New Orleans Recreation Department that pays teens a $600 stipend while the learn about NOPD. She also said that the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has been revitalized to help combat the rising number of fentanyl-related deaths among youth.
As for recruiting efforts, Woodfork thanked the Mayor’s Office, City Council and Civil Service Commission for their work in implementing a recruitment package, which she says that along with NOPD marketing as resulted in the hiring of 45 new recruits so far this year.
“That is a substantial and measurable improvement to last year,” Woodfork said, adding that there were only 28 new recruits hired the entirely of 2022.