NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans Police Department is actively trying to find new recruits to build up the department and improve safety on city streets. Sunday, the department kicked off a whole new phase of it's recruiting campaign, starting in an unlikely place, with a Super Bowl ad.
The commercial, which touts the benefits of helping to make New Orleans safe, premiered locally Sunday, during the Super Bowl.
SUNO criminologist John Penny, Ph.D., says, "You normally don't see an ad from NOPD or any city services."
That's because ad time is coveted and pricey. "I think it's very atypical for them to do that yet at the same time they will reach a number of young people," Penny explained.
That's the hope. The department is actively trying to put more bodies on the streets. Mayor Mitch Landrieu says, "We have, because of financial circumstances, fallen below the level of officers many of us believe we need to police this city."
It's a move Penny thinks is absolutely necessary. He says, "I think what it presents is a sense of people feeling a lot more secure when you see the number of bodies on the street and uniforms on the street."
Last week, the department put out a call to retired officers, asking them to join the reserve unit. An overwhelming number signed up Saturday at City Hall.
"For us to put 100 seasoned officers on the street instantly like that is a benefit to the city you could never imagine, we couldn't pay millions of dollars for it," said retired NOPD Commander Louis Dabdoub.
The aggressive push to get the word out about the NOPD isn't just limited to television ads. The "Get Behind the Badge" campaign is all over social media. "It signifies a sense of moving away from the old and bringing in the new and perhaps a sense that they really mean business," Penny said.
The goal is to have a police force 1,600 strong.
Money for the commercial and other recruitment efforts is coming from the city and through funds raised by the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation. The commercial will continue to air through big television events like the Grammy awards and March Madness.
Mobile users can view the full video here: http://bit.ly/1EzZ0bC