The Alliance for Good Government’s Orleans Parish chapter wants to eliminate the city’s residency requirement for New Orleans police officers, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The vote came after a forum last night on a study that cited a serious police morale problem fueled by low pay, a requirement that officers live within city limits, and the city’s failure to live up to promotion promises. City Councilman Oliver Thomas, who spoke in favor of the residency rule at the meeting, said the study does not show how lifting the rule would attract more officers to the force.
Henri Wolbrette, chairman of a foundation’s committee that oversaw the study, said the residency rule must be lifted to build the force to a strength of 2,000 officers. “In order to get to the 2,000 in three years . . . you have to add at least 250 police officers a year,” he said.
The department gets 750 applications a year, but, the residency requirement has created a small pool of applicants from which to draw, making recruitment very difficult.
The recruiting problem New Orleans is experiencing is part of a nationwide trend. Cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are having problems beefing up their forces.