New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass’ decision to favor relaxing the law that requires officers to live in Orleans Parish has shaken the foundation of a long stalemate on a controversial subject, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Whether the chief’s remarks will be the final blow for the law, which dates to the 1950s but has been enforced only for the past decade, is less certain. The law may be shelved temporarily, if the city is willing to provide incentives to encourage officers to stay in New Orleans.
Amid rising concerns about crime and a stubbornly high murder rate, the department is budgeted for 1,885 officers but has been able to fill only 1,685 positions. Council President Eddie Sapir called the chief’s remarks significant and said there would be more discussion next month, after a new council member is sworn in and Sapir convenes a “crime summit.” Simon Hardgrove, president of the Black Organization of Police, said that if some changes are made, “we would seriously consider supporting the repeal of residency for some period of time.” Among them: raises for city-dwelling officers and private-school tuition aid or other educational breaks for their children. Hardgrove said his members are concerned that the change could cut into gains black people have made at the department, where they now comprise 55 percent of the force.