On the heels of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s plea last week for State Police to devote more troopers to his crime-plagued city, the head of the Police Association of New Orleans has written a scathing open letter to Landrieu, accusing the mayor of turning his back on the New Orleans Police Department and leaving it “hideously and dangerously understaffed.”
Invoking a recent demonstration in New York City in which officers there collectively turned their backs on the mayor after shooting deaths of two officers, Michael Glasser, president of the quasi-union police association, says NOPD’s own ranks are “telling me they are thinking about whether to turn their backs on their mayor.”
“With daily crime rising and mega-events such as Mardi Gras looming in the near future — and a nearly five-year loss of personnel averaging one officer lost every three days in spite of aggressive hiring campaigns — NOPD officers are watching the events in New York and thinking,” Glasser wrote.
“The fact is, it is you, Mr. Landrieu, who has turned YOUR back on THEM,” he added.
Glasser accused Landrieu of “always looking outside, never inside” the NOPD, referring to the mayor’s repeated requests that Gov. Bobby Jindal dedicate a more permanent contingent of troopers to patrol the French Quarter and his plans for NOLA Patrol, an unarmed civilian force to be entrusted with traffic control and other non-emergency duties.
“You have ignored the dedicated men and women of the NOPD, who have demonstrated a quality with which you appear to be unfamiliar….LOYALTY,” Glasser wrote.
“And you wonder why officers are leaving en masse and why it’s so difficult to hire new officers while other local agencies have waiting lists,” he added. “It’s been nearly 5 years….you can’t blame the “old guard” any longer. This failure is purely on you.”
Glasser also accused the mayor of killing a progressive pay package for officers and replacing it with “a nominal and perfunctory raise, knowing full well it would be offset by rising health care costs.”
“The week the raise was announced, eight NOPD officers left to join the State Police,” Glasser wrote. “The very same State Police you implore to stay here; officers you beg to come back wearing a State Police uniform but would not lift a finger to keep here wearing their NOPD uniform. And again, the citizens pay the price.”
A Landrieu spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Glasser’s full letter was posted Monday on PANO’s Facebook page.
The letter comes as scores of residents, fed up with violent crime in the city, planned to rally at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Jackson Square to demand an increased police presence.
“People, I think, are really running scared,” said Karen Sepko, an organizer of the event. “These criminals are just running the streets.”
Tuesday’s rally was expected to draw at least 270 people, according to the event’s Facebook page.