High school graduates are once again welcome at the New Orleans Police Department. The Civil Service Commission voted unanimously Monday to eliminate a rule requiring most applicants to have 60 hours of college credit in order to qualify for a job on the force, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The change, sought by Mayor Mitch Landrieu, was supported be police unions, the Police and Justice Foundation, a nonprofit, and the New Orleans Business Council, who said officers are stretched too thin.
Superintendent Michael Harrison sought the rule’s elimination in order to boost the Police Department’s highly publicized recruitment effort, which, despite getting underway in 2013, has failed to significantly increase officer ranks. As of Monday, the department had 1,158 officers, only 18 more than in July of last year and far fewer than Landrieu’s stated goal of 1,600. About 1,000 applicants have been rejected because they lacked the college education, and many more never applied for the same reason.