Almost from the moment two months ago when New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison announced the transfer of 22 officers from desk or support jobs to street patrol duty, the impact of the move was blunted.

Civil District Court judges and the district attorney complained about losing officers dedicated to their offices, and critics questioned if the move was sweeping enough to have any real impact on a department that’s losing about 10 officers a month to resignation and retirement.

With about 100 officers on long-term leave or suspension and only about 300 available to answer emergency calls across all ranks, districts and shifts, Harrison finds himself in a tough spot.

“Our No. 1 priority is to put as many officers on the street as possible while we continue to work aggressively to grow the department,” NOPD spokesman Tyler Gamble said. “To make it happen, we eliminated these administrative positions that have traditionally been held by officers and replaced them with civilians where possible. The goal is to permanently move officers from behind desks where possible, and we will continue to look for ways to make it happen.”

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