New Orleans, LA – A now-former New Orleans police officer recorded a video of how badly understaffed the city was on a busy Friday night before he notified his sergeant that he was quitting the police force (video below).
Now-former New Orleans Police Officer Scott Fanning told The Police Tribune that he wasn’t planning to quit his job when he went to work on July 22.
Then he got into his patrol vehicle and logged into the computer system after roll call and saw the chaos that greeted the start of his shift.
“I looked at the backlog and saw how many calls were holding. And I looked at how many officers we had,” Fanning told The Police Tribune.
“Then there was a Code 2 and half our officers went to that call,” he explained. “That’s when I recorded the screen. I just recorded it for myself at the time.”
“I counted 35 officers who were logged into police cars on patrol currently driving around. And that was for the entire city,” Fanning recalled.
So he decided to make a record of it and turned on the video camera on his phone.
“Okay, so I just read a news article that says the city of New Orleans has over 1,000 officers,” then-Officer Fanning told the camera in a video he filmed moments before he quit his job as a New Orleans police officer.
“Let me show you this real quick,” the officer said. “So it’s 7/22 of 2022, 7:57 p.m. and look starting at 1:13 these are all the officers currently logged in an working in the whole city.”
Officer Fanning aimed his camera at the screen in his police vehicle.
“Let me go slow so you can count it if you want,” he said, scrolling. “All the way to right there, 8:49 and it stops. These are all the officers logged in in the whole city.”
“I counted it there’s about 35 officers logged in and the news is giving information that we have over 1,000,” Officer Fanning said.
“It’s just completely a lie,” he said angrily in the video. “Not even near. We don’t have a fourth of that. Nowhere near 1,000.”
Fanning said that the total of 35 officers logged in included several detectives who were working but weren’t on patrol.
He said that was all the police manpower on the streets for the entire city of New Orleans that night, which has an estimated population of about 377,000.
The former officer was assigned to patrol the French Quarter and the Central Business District (CBD) on July and said there were only three officers total working in the entire Eighth District when he made the video.
“That’s when the tourist and locals come out, people are enjoying their Friday or Saturday night. It’s summertime,” he told The Police Tribune.
He said there should have been more officers patrolling, especially mid-summer in the tourist area on Bourbon Street.
Fanning said low morale was also affecting the numbers of officers patrolling the streets because officers were calling off of work.
“That’s when you need the most officers and it kinda has a reverse effect,” he explained. “That’s when less officers show up because they don’t want to deal with it. They know how many calls there are going to be. And people end up calling out. You never know if you’re going to have backup.”
He told The Police Tribune that things have been worse this summer in the city, “especially since we switched to 12-hour shifts.”
At least 107 New Orleans police officers have quit or retired so far this year, and another 100 departures are anticipated before the end of 2022.
Fanning, who graduated from the police academy in May of 2020, said the staffing shortage on July 22 was the last straw and he made the decision that it would be his last night on the job.
The former officer told The Police Tribune he didn’t feel safe at work, especially on self-initiated calls, meaning incidents that he encountered when he was patrolling rather than calls he was asked to respond to.
“On some calls, there would possibly be no back up at all,” he said.
“We didn’t have backup pretty frequently,” Fanning recalled. “Especially if you self-initiated a call when you found something going on. You ask for help and it’s crickets on the radio. Nobody responds to you.”
He said it wasn’t other officers leaving a fellow cop out to dry, they were already handling serious calls they could not walk away from, which leaves officers on their own to deal with potentially violent offenders on a regular basis.
Fanning said it was also hard to deal with the fact that when he made a good arrest of a dangerous person, prosecutors and judges were simply released the suspects back into the general public.
“There was one case at Bourbon and 700 block of St Louis that I turned around and saw a man with a gun – there were these guys he was pointing it at and they were running and ducking,” Fanning told The Police Tribune.
“I pull my gun and order him to drop the weapon and he did,” he continued. “We ended up booking him on so many counts of aggravated assault because there were so many tourists on the street.”
“Then the very next day, back at the same location the very next day, we saw him,” the former officer recalled. “The same guy. Almost wearing the same thing. It was just the biggest middle finger in the face you could possibly get.”
He said he and his partner just looked at each other and shrugged.
“No reaction at all? That shouldn’t be a normal thing,” Fanning told The Police Tribune.
The now-former police officer applied to the department as soon as he was old enough and wanted to be a police officer for a long time, and now he’s worried that his career is ruined.
Fanning told The Police Tribune that he had started applying for jobs at other police departments before he quit but that the process was just longer than he could wait it out at the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).
In fact, he moved out of New Orleans and into the suburb of Covington the day after he resigned from the police force.
“I just had to get out of New Orleans,” he said sadly.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson chastised the 23-year-old former officer’s actions during a press conference at police headquarters on July 26, WVUE reported.
“It was disheartening, especially knowing the oath we take,” New Orleans’ top cop told reporters during a press conference at police headquarters on July 26.
“He abandoned his post,” he continued. “He just walked out on his brothers and sisters in blue. He abandoned the citizens of New Orleans. He abandoned this department.”
But Fanning told The Police Tribune that other officers have been very supportive of what he did.
He said he’d gotten tons of texts and phone calls from the officers he worked with.
The former officer even got a call from a department official who informed him he was using a “burner phone” to convey his support, Fanning told The Police Tribune.
But being the target of an angry police superintendent wasn’t something the 23 year old had expected.
“It was stressful but I was amazed. I couldn’t believe [the police superintendent] was up there saying stuff about me when every officer on the force right now has good reasons for why we would leave this department,” Fanning said.
“I amazes me that he’s the leader and he’s going to stand up there and tell the citizens that I messed up,” he said. “He’ll never admit that New Orleans is in a public safety crisis. He’ll just never admit it at this point.”
“And the unfortunate truth is that it might look better for him if he keeps saying that everything’s okay, but everybody knows it’s not,” Fanning said.
He said that everybody he worked with on the police force has been texting him and saying he did the right thing and they support him.
But Fanning said the officials at headquarters weren’t nearly as friendly when he arrived on Monday morning to sign official resignation paperwork and turn in his gun and badge.
He was informed that he was facing charges for abandoning his post mid-shift and that several other investigations had been opened.
“I promise that these are gonna stick,” he said someone in the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau (PIB) told him.
Fanning said they mentioned leaving duty and incomplete reports but didn’t give him a full list.
“She wouldn’t tell me how many. Just promised they would make it stick,” he recalled.
However, they wanted him to sign a blank form acknowledging all the alleged infractions.
“They told me to sign it and leave it and they’ll get it back to me,” Fanning told The Police Tribune. “No, definitely not happening. I have no PIB exit form on my record right now so I don’t even know what’s going to happen.”
The information on that piece of paper may determine whether the 23 year old can ever get another job in law enforcement.
“I had a long conversation about it with my parents,” he said. “Just about how I had waited since I was 18. I wasn’t old enough so I waited and then I did it and I love it.”
“But in the academy, you don’t really see much about how it is on the street,” Fanning continued. “And when you’re new, you don’t see it because you feel like you’re accomplishing something.”
“Then your realize you aren’t and you are working for a superintendent who is saying it’s not bad and that we don’t have any problems. I never met an officer at my rank who thought that we had good leadership in the department,” he told The Police Tribune.
The Police Tribune reached out to Superintendent Ferguson for comment but had not heard back from NOPD at publication time.
Watch Fanning’s video from his last shift here below: