NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans police officer Scott Fanning quit in the middle of his shift last week saying the lack of staffing was unsafe. Fanning, a third-year officer assigned to the Eighth District policing the French Quarter and Central Business District, notified a supervisor by text message that he was quitting the force, according to Fox8.
Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said that the latest of personnel losses was especially disturbing.
“It was disheartening,” Ferguson said at a news conference at NOPD headquarters, ”especially knowing the oath we take.
“He abandoned his post. He just walked out on his brothers and sisters in blue. He abandoned the citizens of New Orleans. He abandoned this department.”
But in an exclusive interview with Fox 8, Fanning explained his decision was one of self-preservation.
“The reason I left is that something just kind of clicked for me, that it was just not worth it,” Fanning said. “That night I quit, there were over 40 calls holding when I logged into my computer, and there were only 35 patrol officers logged in for all eight districts.”
For a city with an estimated population of around 377,000, Fanning saw less than three dozen patrol officers on the streets last Friday night. He decided then that would be his last night on the force.
“It was kind of sad,” admitted Fanning, a 23-year-old Northshore man who applied with the NOPD as soon as he reached the minimum qualifying age of 20 1/2. Fanning completed academy training on his first attempt and was sworn in as part of Recruit Class No. 188 on May 1, 2020.
Fanning said he was far from the only NOPD officer struggling with low morale. He said veteran officers with pension qualification in their sights might want to leave but feel they can’t, while younger officers don’t feel the same restraints. He said traditional police gripes about pay or workload are being eclipsed by safety concerns for officers who realize they have little backup during their shifts.
Travis Yates, chronicled the toxic leadership problem in law enforcement in his book ‘The Courageous Police Leader.’ He has trained cops across the world in the last two decades and he tells Law Officer that Fanning’s sentiment is the majority in the profession.
Yates said that there may be a healthy debate on how Fanning quit but his reason is valid and for that, law enforcement leaders should take ownership and responsibility.
“A law enforcement leader has two main responsibilities that supersede everything else….staffing and training and that leads to the safety that Fanning discussed,” Yates told us.
Yates said that rather than the leadership at New Orleans giving fancy talking points like ‘oath’ and ‘abandonment,’ they should look in the mirror at their own leadership.
“If I am going to listen to another police leader talk about ‘letting officers down’ they better start with themselves. We have law enforcement professionals that can’t take a vacation day to spend with their family; they are working in unsafe conditions without the proper backup and equipment and frankly they are working for leaders that have gutted the morale in such as a way, we are way past ruining this great career,” Yates lamented.