Mayor Cantrell’s Officer Retention and Recruitment Programs in New Orleans

The New Orleans Police Department has lost police officers at a record pace. We have not been south of 1,000 police officers for a long time. We have gotten there again. Being below 1,000 officers creates problems for police officers and the community they are trying to protect. With that in mind, Mayor Cantrell turned to the Lindner Group to work on programs designed to get the NOPD back above 1,000 and more.

It is worth pointing out that in addition to the incentive programs implemented by the administration, there are programs that are on the table to be implemented as they are feasible. Those programs include:

  • Take Home Cars – Claude Schlesinger has fought relentlessly for the NOPD to give every officer a take-home car. Due to supply chain issues that are affecting auto sales across the country, it is not all that easy to get a car;
  • An education incentive program or student loan payback program;
  • Relocation Assistance;
  • Rental Assistance; and
  • Pensionable Overtime.

https://www.wwltv.com/embeds/video/responsive/289-7f06fcba-b357-48e7-822b-924a95ab9666/iframe

<a href=”http://<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ style=”border:1px solid #e6e6e6″ src=”https://www.wwltv.com/embeds/video/responsive/289-7f06fcba-b357-48e7-822b-924a95ab9666/iframe&#8221; allowfullscreen=”true” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true”>Click here to see the press conference in its entirety.

First and foremost, none of the below programs will have any impact on the programs already in place. For example, officers will still get a lump sum payment equal to 5% of their base salary this year. Officers will also get a 5% raise in January 2023. In fact, officers will also get a 5% raise in January 2024 and another 5% raise in January 2025. In March 2023, officers will receive retention bonuses up to $20,000 based on years of service. Officers are also due to receive a $1,200 lump sum payment from the State of Louisiana State Supplemental Pay Program.

RECRUITMENT

The New Orleans Police Department has got to get to the point where they are hiring more officers than are leaving. We have been losing for years now. Some of this attrition may be due to the Consent Decree and some is due to other aspects of their employment.

The recruitment portion includes a $30,000 Recruit Incentive Package. That includes $20,000 paid to new Recruits after 1 year and then another $10,000 paid to all NOPD employees after 3 years. I think that some people may have missed that portion. The $10,000 will be paid to all commissioned employees of the New Orleans Police Department. That would include recent hires and current employees.

The Recruits will also get the pay raises mentioned above (5% – 2023, 5% 2024, and 5% 2024).

LATERAL HIRES

Lateral hires are police officers who have already been trained, are POST certified by another police department, and have been working as a police officer in another jurisdiction. Lateral hires can be put to work much faster than new recruits. While new recruits are valuable, lateral hires can get to helping our current officers faster.

New Recruits are hired and when there are enough Recruits, they attend 4-6 months of training by the Police Academy. Once that training is complete, the Recruits then have to complete Field Training. Field Training is conducted by veteran police officers and is on-the-job training. They ride in real police cars, carry real guns, and answer real calls for service. Lateral hires, however, might only have to go to the Academy for 1 or 2 months. That way they can get any legal updates they may need and they can learn what the New Orleans Police Department expects from its officers. Once they get out of the Academy, lateral hires don’t need all of the same field training. They just need to learn the differences in how NOPD handles the radio or writes a report, etc.

CURRENT OFFICERS

If the NOPD keeps losing officers at the rate they are going, we will have to schedule a fire sale and call it a day. Everyone recognizes the NOPD has to keep its current, experienced employees. This was a problem similar to the one we had in the 1990s. In the 1990s, crime was out of control and manpower was lower than it needed to be. In the 1990s, Chief Richard Pennington was appointed by Mayor Marc Morial. The NOPD looked a lot like it does now. Morial and Pennington hired John Lindner and many changes were made and it was successful (for the most part).

The big difference between now and the 1990s was that in the 1990s, the problems belonged to New Orleans. Now, however, the problems belong to many departments across the nation. The NOPD is going to have to be bolder and work harder to get out of this hole. I believe today was a good start.

Mayor Cantrell has hired John Lindner again. John Casbon of the NOPJF is in the mix again. They also brought in Fausto Pacheco, formerly chief of patrol for NYPD as COO. Someone whose job is to make an inherently dangerous job less dangerous.

The administration has changed the Public Integrity Bureau. PIB was the product of Chief Arlinda Westbrook. Now, PIB will be the product of Keith Sanchez, who was hired to replace Chief Westbrook.

Current officers will be eligible for the following benefits:

  • Current officers will still get the retention bonus to be paid in March 2023.
  • Current officers will get the 5% raises.
  • Current officers will get a Cost of Living payment this year. (2022)
  • Current officers will no longer have to pay health insurance premiums.

In addition, current employees:

  • Current officers will also get $10,000 in 2025.
  • They will be working on educational incentives
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Housing Support
  • Virtual Testing
  • Improved equipment to include take-home cars
  • upgraded technology
  • Facility upgrades and repairs

The financial incentives listed above for Recruits, Laterals, and Current employees should give the NOPD the type of advantage it needs to address the current crisis.

Click here to see CAO Gilbert Montano’s presentation.