As crime rate increases in city, NOPD raises incentives for more recruits

As the city of New Orleans slowly recovers from the damages caused by Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Police Department heightens incentives to increase recruitment, announced Chief Superintendent Warren J. Riley. Two years have passed since Katrina and the NOPD has yet to regain the manpower it had before the storm. Over half of the force have either relocated or retired, leaving the NOPD to rely on the help of the Louisiana National Guard’s Task Force, whose activation has been extended twice. “We are actively working to get the force back to where it once was before the storm. There is no specific time frame or deadline that we are trying to meet,” said Officer Jonette Williams, public informations officer. Because of the rise of criminal activity, the police department is currently accepting applications for trainees that will work under close supervision and adhere to protecting the life and properties of the city by enforcing federal, state and municipal laws and ordinances, according to the New Orleans Civil Service. After completing all required phases, a Police Recruit, with a starting salary of approximately $35, 297, will automatically be promoted to a Police Officer I classification. The promotion will entitle the officer to a salary increase of about $42,170, which is a $9,059 salary increase from pre-Katrina, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. In addition to regular salaries are annual paid allowances for college degree holding officers: $1,000 bonus is given to officers with an associate degree, $2,000 for a bachelor’s degree, $3,000 for a master’s degree and $4,000 for a doctorate. Other incentives include faster promotion, paid vacation, sick leave, free or reduced college tuition and 21 college credits upon completion of the police academy. A sign- on bonus of $5,000 is also being offered for experienced officers with certification that are willing to commit to a minimum of three years. Compared to another high crime city like New York, which is triple the size of New Orleans, the heightened NOPD incentives are credible. A New York City Police Officer I is paid approximately $32,700, which is less than New Orleans, yet the Year-To-Date violent crime total slightly doubles that of New Orleans. “Currently we have the largest class that we’ve ever had in NOPD history with 69 recruits,” said Williams, “recruiters have been traveling to other parishes, cities, and states and a vast majority of ads can be found in newspapers, on the radio, and billboards.” According to the New Orleans Uniform Crime Report, crime has increased approximately 59 percent since Katrina. The report shows that all areas of the Part I index crimes (eight most severe crimes), except rape, has almost doubled and even tripled for some, because of the lack of manpower to deter criminal activity. The total amount of violent crimes committed in the 2006 first quarter was 364, by the first quarter of 2007 that figure had increased to 753. Figures continue to increase for violent crimes; however, non-violent crimes have decreased by 15.79 percent, according to the U.C.R.