NEW ORLEANS - Night Out Against Crime is a chance for people to meet the police who protect their neighborhoods.
In the next couple of years, New Orleans residents will see more men and women in blue.
"Send the word wide and far, if you want to be part of a renaissance city, if you want be part of the best police department in the world in crowd control, if you want to be part of changing the very nature and fabric and culture of a great American city, this is the place to be a police officer," says Superintendent Ronal Serpas. "This the time to apply to be a police officer and this is the time to join the fight."
In front of a large crowd in New Orleans East, Serpas praised the mayor's proposed budget for next year. It provides more funding for New Orleans police for cameras, classes and cars.
"We'll have 100 new cars coming before the end of the year, we'll have another 100 next year," says Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "We had two recruit classes last year, we'll have five recruit classes this year. Every police officer is going to have a camera so that we can make sure that everybody knows what's going on. We're also going to do $300,000 for recruiting. We're also going to put $1 million in the NORD budget to get on the front side of what it is we're doing and NOLA for life is going to be more robust next year so safety is the number one issue for the city."
But Fraternal Order of Police attorney Raymond Burkhart says that won't be enough to address the serious manpower issues at NOPD. Since 2010, 306 officers have resigned, retired or been fired. And of the 1,200 sworn officers, only about 700 patrol the streets.
Burkhart says new requirements will make it tough to fill recruiting classes.
"We have to ensure that we're not limiting our recruitment pool, which is something we've been doing with the domicile ordinance, the tattoo policy and the office of police secondary employment," says Burkhart. "Until we fix those three issues, we're going to have recruitment issues, whether they be new recruits or lateral transfers from other agencies."
Burkhart says the FOP is working with the city council to see if the ordinance requiring new officers to live in Orleans parish can be amended or repealed.
The organization is also working with Serpas on the tattoo policy.
The Superintendent believes the city's focus on public safety will bring in new recruits.
"Now that we have a firm commitment that we're going to continue to hire, young men and women who are looking at New Orleans as a destination city or the police department are going to see our commitment to hiring and that will change the decisions they make," says Serpas.
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