New Orleans, Louisiana
2000 City Livability Award Winner Sample Initial Application, Large Cities

1. Briefly describe your program

The New Orleans Police Department reform plan has become a model for police reform around the world. It transformed the NOPD into an effective and efficient crime-fighting organization. The key t reform was a decentralization plan that shifted detectives, officers and supervisors from police headquarters and deployed them to the streets. A newly implemented computerized crime tracking system (COMSTAT) allows commanders to see and target crime "hot spots" and this information is available to the public on the Internet. Each Friday morning, district commanders meet together with the police chief t review progress. In addition, renewed recruiting criterion, higher pay, and anti-corruption initiatives have raised the standards for officers and helped bring the force from 1,150 officers to 1,700.

2. When and why was it created?

In 1994, when Mayor Morial took office, the City of New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation and crime was spiraling out of control. In addition some 73% of murders went unsolved. The NOPD was also notorious for corruption and mismanagement. Following a national search, Mayor Morial hired Richard Pennington, a veteran police officer from Washington, D.C. with a proven record of reducing crime. Several months later, the mayor and police chief presented a plan to reform the police department, enforcing high standards of conduct and targeting crime on the streets.

3. How has the program improved the quality of life in your community?

Today, New Orleans is leading the nation for decreasing crime. Murder is down 55% and violent crime is down over 60% since 1994. The most recent quality of life survey conducted by a local university found that only 20 percent of New Orleanians felt that crime was increasing, the lowest level in 12 years. In comparison, in 1994, 94 percent of those polled believe crime was increasing. Home values are increasing and people are moving back into the city.

4. Why is your program outstanding or innovative?

The New Orleans Police Department has undergone a total transformation in policing over the past five years. The reform plan restructured, reorganized and reengineered the NOPD to attack the problem of violent crime. Older policing methods in New Orleans involved police responding to 911 calls. Today, officers are out on the streets and forming partnerships with the community. By targeting hot spots, the NOPD is preventing crimes before they happen. No one area of the city was singled out, the reform plan has reduced crime in every area of the city.