With nearly three out of every four murders going unsolved this year, morale within the New Orleans police homicide unit has ebbed to a caustic level, sources say, as detectives feel crushed by excessive caseloads and overtime restrictions, and tensions with Orleans Parish prosecutors reaching their highest level in nearly a decade.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro insisted during separate interviews with NOLA.com this week that they, and those they supervise, still stand shoulder to shoulder in combatting New Orleans' spiraling murder rate. But interviews with six current or former NOPD homicide detectives and several prosecutors, who were not authorized to speak publicly, paint a troubling picture of dysfunction and gloom pervading what used to be regarded as the most prestigious unit on the police force.
"Everybody up there wants out," one detective said, referring to the homicide unit's third-floor office at NOPD headquarters. "Homicide used to be the elite. But we are completely broken."
Additional detectives are long overdue, they said, as is a pay hike rejected in December by the Civil Service Commission and the authorization of sufficient overtime hours to permit competent investigations and to keep up with the city's rising tide of killings.