The New Orleans Police Department has a serious morale problem caused largely by low pay, a requirement that officers live in the city, and the department’s failure to live up to promises on promotions, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The findings came a study released by the New Orleans Police Foundation and done by the University of New Orleans Survey Research Center. The report said the number of officers resigning from the department is rising, and most of the resignations are coming from new hires.
Police Foundation Chairman John Casbon said the residency rule should be abolished: “we need to make sure the New Orleans Police Department is not just duct-taped together.” But Mayor Ray Nagin and Council President Oliver Thomas said they are not convinced that removing the residency requirement is in the city’s best interests. “Nobody has shown me how (changing the residency requirement) will make 300 more people sign up,” Thomas said, referring to the department’s hiring shortfall.
The city budget approved by the council last month allows for across-the-board $2,000 raises for officers that will begin July 1. Police Chief Eddie Compass promised a recruiting program that will include assistance from the Police Foundation, the Civil Service Commission, and Louisiana State University. He said officers’ concerns about promotions stem from slow implementation of changes in police recruiting pushed through the City Council during Mayor Marc Morial’s administration, including promises of rapid promotion of patrol officers to higher grades and the accompanying higher pay.