By Natasha Robin, FOX 8

July 18, 2023

The City of New Orleans is being fined tens of millions of dollars by a police retirement group due to the drastic decline in police officers.

The Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS) will fine the city starting at $50,000 per month, which will escalate to $214,000 per month by 2024, due to losing more than 50 officers for two consecutive years.

“Apparently the city of New Orleans is about to owe a lot of money due to the fact that we do not have enough police officers,” says Council Vice President Helena Moreno. “It’s going to be roughly 38 million dollars over the next five years.”

Despite the city’s efforts to recruit more officers, a considerable number are retiring from the force, leading to a manpower shortage.

Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission revealed that the NOPD currently has approximately 900 officers, including recruits still undergoing training.

“There’s a report that states by the end of the year, we’ll have the lowest number of police officers that we’ve seen since 1947. I would suggest that we’ve already surpassed that number right now,” says Goyeneche. “We’ve lost more officers this year than we’ve hired.”

“We always thought that the reduction in police officers was just a major public safety impact, but now it’s going to be a major financial impact,” says Moreno.

Moreno says she is especially frustrated because the council is just now finding out about the fines. She says a representative from MPERS told her they’ve been contacting the city for the past year about it.

“Yet, the council was never made aware of this particular issue, not even the budget chair was made aware that this was coming down the pipeline,” says Moreno.

Moreno says on top of that, she doesn’t believe an effort was made to discuss the issue with MPERS.

“Why were there not more robust conversations with MPERS? They could have worked with the legislature to see if some things could be changed within the law to potentially help cities like New Orleans struggling to keep officers. None of that happened,” says Moreno.

She says not having enough officers is already a major problem that affects everyone in the city. Now, she says there’s a financial burden connected to the manpower shortage.