Thursday, September 21, 2006

1,100 Police Officers and No OMI

The city really does have about 1,400 police officers, however WWL TV reported Tuesday night that:
Currently, the Civil Service Commission reports 1,413 on the city's payroll, but that doesn't necessarily mean there are 1,400 officers on the streets.

After subtracting those with desk jobs, those on long-term medical leave and the 40 administrators for the different districts from a list of all the officers in the department, Eyewitness News learned there are closer to 1,100 officers actually out on the streets.

The TV report made it somewhat clearer that the loss of civilian employees led to fewer active patrolmen, but failed to go into detail. Also, as underpaid as police officers are, they're almost certainly paid more than the filing clerks and phone operators whose positions they're temporarily filling.

It attracted very little attention at the time of the layoffs, but in today's Times Picayune article about the debate over creating an inspector general's office we read that:
Proponents of the idea have said the need for government oversight became more critical last year after Mayor Ray Nagin effectively shut down the city's Office of Municipal Investigation. Nagin laid off the agency's entire staff after the storm as part of a series of cost-cutting moves.

Considering that the state of emergency has relaxed the already lax city and state laws regarding public spending, it wold probably be extremely difficult to prove that this administration has broken any laws. But that's no reason why the media and public citizens shouldn't be asking much tougher questions about city finances.

I didn't realize we still had laws
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