This afternoon, Mayor Mitch is announcing a grant from the Department of Justice that will increase staffing in the NOPD. NoDef is liveblogging the press conference.
In all, $2.7 million will be released to hire 16 new officers. That covers salary and benefits for three years for 16 new officers. The money, which will provide for the first DOJ recruiting class since the DOJ released its scathing report on the Department, will help beef up the NOPD's homicide unit. The mayor called a press conference to talk about the new class. Follow the updates below.
1:00 A group of NOPD protestors gathered outside City Hall. They intend to stay there every Thursday. Their desire? To see NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas leave town.
1:27 Inside City Hall, Mayor Mitch takes the stage. First, he eulogizes Archbishop Phillip Hannan, who died this morning. The former leader of New Orleans Catholics is one of the reasons Landrieu got a scholarship to Catholic University was the bishop and his work on civil rights issues with JFK.
1:30 Serpas, US Attorney Jim Letten, the FBI and, who's that? Stacy Head are all onstage.
1:35 We are going to get rid of the few bad cops we have and hire new ones," Landrieu says after announcing the grant. Homicide is clearly the talking point, as we hear about shifting resources to beef up the homicide unit. Proving sometimes it's worth taking a beating, Landrieu says we got money from the feds because we cooperated with the DOJ.
1:37 Firefighters also get more help. Money came from the feds for 78 new NOFD employees.
1:38 The feds know how to come up with an acronym. The two grant programs are called COPS and SAFER.
1:39 Shoutout to Obama. Then he veers into the American Jobs Act, saying he wants it passed quickly. Did the White House briefing packet somehow find its way onto the dais?
1:40 Now back to cops. Serpas reads from a prepared statement, quickly and a little stilted on the delivery.
1:41 Jackie Clarkson in the Hiz-ouse. A little late, but somehow we knew she wouldn't miss a press conference.
1:42 Serpas is talking about homicide again. We now have a cold case unit. Is a CBS show soon to follow? On being a better police department, Serpas says:"It's going to happen."
1:45 Leon Cannizzaro joins the fray. He references Telly Hankton's recent conviction. Then talks about the police department. "The better the police department…the higher the rate of taking violent criminals off the street," he says. A subtle dig?
1:47 The Bureau's man is up, really up. "I can't explain how excited I am today about this grant," he says.
1:49 Jackie Clarkson's turn. She just got back from New York City, she says. She saw Patricia's premiere, but also met with Christina Quinn. She claims NYC is a sister city to us because they know how much better things are. Our change is "being talked about" she said.
1:50 Now we get Head. "If you're distrustful (of NOPD), get over this point," she says. Stacy Head says NOPD has done wonders for Central City.
1:51Mitch takes the podium back, and makes sure to thank Obama again, and says people in Congress who are fighting over money should look at what it can do in places like New Orleans. Is this being beamed to the Oval Office?
1:53 Q and A time. Question: How many more officers do we need? Serpas says it's not that simple, and needs to look at data. Classic dodge. T-P's Brendan McCarthy wants to know how many total will be in the recruiting class. 25ish, he is told, which is 10 more than the feds are giving us money for. Knowing this class will be here allowed him to move 16 officers to homicide.
1:54 McCarthy has a budgeting question. Mayor Mitch tries to stop him with a joke. Brendan keeps pushing, so Landrieu takes over the podium and silences him. Mitch takes this opportunity to slam Congressional Republicans again. The city is constrained, he says. "The chief can't answer his question in a vaccum." Next year's budget will include his proposal for hiring officers.
1:56 The mayor asks McCarthy if that answers his question. It's not, McCarthy says, because he didn't address the cost of the consent decree. On the consent decree, Landrieu says he does not expect it to cost tens of millions of dollars, like other cities. But we do expect federal funding, albeit a contensious, unpleasant process to negotiate that funding.
1:57 Here's a new one: Serpas is running unopposed as vice president of the national police chiefs' association.
1:58 And that's a wrap.