Proposed ordinance to suspend domicile requirements for NOPD - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Proposed ordinance to suspend domicile requirements for NOPD

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New Orleans, La. - With roughly 1,200 sworn NOPD Officers, there are only a little more than 700 of them actually patrolling the streets. That's a number that is causing concern at City Hall.

In front of the Council's Criminal Justice Committee this week, NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas pointed out that he too would like to have more officers, but says it's a balancing act.

"Mayor Landrieu says we need about 300 more officers, but you as a council aren't going to shut down government to give me 300 more people tomorrow. We have to work with what we have," says Chief Serpas.

The NOPD launched an aggressive recruitment campaign this year, but some say the city's residency requirement has become a roadblock to adding manpower.

"By having a domicile requirement that requires new officers to live within the parish of Orleans, we are extremely limiting our pool of applicants to the department," says Raymond Burkhart, attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police.

Council members decided now is the time to act.

"We're going to try for a year to drop the domicile requirement in order to not impede recruiting," says Council President Jackie Clarkson

Clarkson and Councilwoman Susan Guidry authored a proposal that would temporarily suspend the residency requirement for first responders.

"I mean, we can't recruit someone into Orleans Parish to uproot their family and buy property that costs more. Maybe they'll have to use a private school and not pay them more money. That's an equation to fail," says Clarkson.

Burkhart commends the council members for their proposal. "The fact is that this couldn't have happened at a better time. I mean, people are really interested in joining the New Orleans Police Department but that domicile requirement is usually the first wall and hurdle that keeps people from applying," says Burkhart

Clarkson says she doesn't know if she'll have the council's full support moving forward.

The proposed ordinance will first have to pass the Criminal Justice Committee on October 18. After that, it will go before the full Council for approval.

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