To replenish the ranks of New Orleans police, recruiters have traveled from Biloxi, Miss., to Cleveland, Ohio, from college campuses to military bases to churches in search of applicants, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The city has offered signing bonuses and low-interest home loans; officials have even tossed promotional doubloons during Carnival parades. A new recruiting idea has tapped into a substantial pool of enthusiastic and highly qualified prospects: retired New Orleans Police Department officers. Under an experimental program, retired cops are rehired as civilian employees and placed in desk jobs that had been filled by uniformed officers. That allows uniformed officers to return to understaffed street patrols. Superintendent Eddie Compass said it puts more cops on the street without the cost of advertising, recruiting, training, and retaining new officers.
Over the past four weeks, 13 retirees have been brought back, working in jobs such as applicant background investigations, evidence processing, and drug screening. Since most of the retired cops already collect a full police pension, the relatively modest civilian pay of about $17 an hour — and no benefits or overtime — was hardly a deterrent. The 13 retired officers hired bring a total of 360 years of experience back into the department. Some are fresh from their retirement send-offs, while others were gone as long as eight years. Most of the former officers are in their 50s and 60s.