Manpower remains a problem for the New Orleans Police Department and Saturday Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas took part in a recruitment event at Langston Hughes Academy.
A new class of police recruits began training less than two weeks ago, but more men and women are needed to fight crime on the streets.
"We are asking you to consider joining the New Orleans Police Department which in my view is going to be one of the best police departments in the country in the not so distance future," Landrieu said during a session with some of the applicants at the recruitment drive.
Twenty-year-old Tevin Blakes filled out an application and hopes he can become a new police trainee in the not too distant future. He has personal reasons for wanting to end the violence.
"Making it better, and safer for everybody, you know because I have family members that have been in terrible crimes, you know, and it's taking a toll on my life," stated Blakes.
Chief Serpas said reforms are making the department better and pay is competitive.
"By the time they get out of the academy and have at least one year of service they are in the low 40's and they can go up to almost the mid to high forties depending upon their education," said Serpas.
The Police and Justice Foundation is assisting the NOPD in getting the "Help Wanted" message out to the public.
"I think there's a good crop of candidates here in the city, but we're also seeing people from all over the country who want to move to New Orleans," said Sandy Shilstone, Chair of the Board of the Police and Justice Foundation.
Veteran law enforcement officers from other departments are encouraged to consider the NOPD, as well.
"If you're already a police officer, or you are in the military you get fast tracked and it's a way to get employed in New Orleans right away," said Shilstone.
In an effort to beef up the ranks of the NOPD, Mayor Landrieu has set a goal of hiring 150 additional officers this year. The current NOPD budget will fund 1,260 cops, according to Serpas.
"Today we're at about 1,150, there are 29 people in the current academy class, there's 64 people in background investigations right now for the next class, and there's well over 1,500 people that have applied with an actual application to the NOPD that we're working through," continued Serpas.
Blakes hopes he will get to wear the NOPD blue.
"In order for us as a community to step and improve our community we have to take charge and that's what I feel like I am doing today," said Blakes.
For more information on NOPD employment opportunities, go to www.joinnopd.org.