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Landrieu wraps up 2014 in New Orleans 

Public safety tops concerns for new year

  In the new year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu hopes to show off New Orleans having its "biggest comeback ever" as the city enters the five-year anniversary of the BP oil disaster and the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Landrieu's year-in-review address last week highlighted what he said were his administration's successes, much of it recovery-related, including landmarks in blight reduction, infrastructure improvements, tourism and retail.

  Public safety remains a central focus in 2015 — two of Landrieu's five top priorities this year are continuing the U.S. Justice Department consent decree governing the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and deterring violent crime. Landrieu and NOPD Chief Michael Harrison pointed to 2014's downward-trending murder rate (there were 150 murders in New Orleans in 2014 as of press time), what Landrieu called a "historic low." Harrison said all NOPD officers are now wearing body-mounted cameras, and 200 additional bodycams are coming in 2015. Harrison said he will pull out problems "by the root" within the sex crimes unit, which was the subject of a scathing report by the Office of Inspector General for mishandling hundreds of sexual assault cases.

  NOPD recruiting also will be a focus in 2015. Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin said with the recently approved 5 percent NOPD pay raises (effective Jan. 1), NOPD offers among "the strongest police salaries in Louisiana." NOPD also will prepare a new recruit class this month. (Last month, NOPD graduated 26 officers, bringing the department's ranks to 1,135 officers. Landrieu says he wants 1,600.)

  The mayor said he'll continue to urge Gov. Bobby Jindal to maintain a State Police presence the city, particularly in the French Quarter, where residents began hanging signs last month reading, "Caution: Walk in large groups. We [heart] the NOPD. We just need more." And a group of French Quarter residents is planning an anti-crime march in the French Quarter on Jan. 6 — Twelfth Night. It will kick off in Jackson Square at 5 p.m.

  "As dangerous as some people think the French Quarter is, it's actually one of the lowest crime areas in the city," Landrieu said. "All over the city people are having the same kinds of concerns. Crime on Bourbon Street tends to get a little bit more attention than an armed robbery in the 7th Ward or Gert Town. We want to bring crime reduction to every part of the city. That's why we're recruiting so aggressively."

  Landrieu also said federal and state governments "have a responsibility" to contribute to law enforcement in New Orleans.


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