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NOPD tries walk-in testing for recruits

26th October 2015   ·   0 Comments

Becoming a law enforcement officer is a long and arduous process. Here in New Orleans, police recruits undergo a lengthy series of rigorous training activities and testing in the hope of someday wearing the NOPD badge.

While completing NOPD training still takes about 26 weeks, an effort is under way to whittle down the pre-training process which until recently took several months, WWL reported last week.

During the time between initiating the application process and beginning actual training, the NOPD risked losing quality recruits to other law enforcement agencies so efforts were made to shorten the application process to speed things along and reduce the risk of losing potential officers to other agencies.

“It really helps us to be more of an efficient department so when we get applicants they don’t get discouraged by the wait time, especially to the out-of-town applicants,” NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison told WWL. “They may find it difficult to take it on an assigned test date. Now, any day of the week they can come in.”

Harrison said the department hired an examiner to work with recruits for the testing, reducing the process by about two months. Usually there is an assigned date for testing.

Since streamlining the recruitment process, the NOPD has seen a jump in applicants. Thus far in 2015, the NOPD has received almost 4,000 new police recruit applications, nearly doubling the number of applications received during the first 10 months of 2014. NOPD officials attribute the sharp rise to more than $500,000 in recruiting efforts from the City of New Orleans.

The surge in applications may also be attributed to the New Orleans City Council’s decision to do away with the residency rule that requires NOPD officers, firefighters and EPS workers to live in Orleans Parish and a change in Civil Service Commission hiring rules that no longer requires NOPD recruits to have completed 60 hours of college credit.

The process to become an officer is about a 13-step program that requires patience and time before completion.

Thanks to recent changes, the first three steps can now be completed in one day.

“The goal is to get more suitable qualified applicants, and I think we have streamlined the process to identify who they are,” Harrison told WWL.

To take the NOPD officer’s exam, applications will need to bring a photo ID and proof of education. The test is administered Monday through Friday at 1340 Poydras St., Suite 900, New Orleans, LA 70112, excluding major holidays.

In other criminal justice-related news, the City of New Orleans’ Office of Inspector General said recently that it will continue to monitor the NOPD’s operations despite proposed changes to the city’s charter that would separate the offices of the Inspector General and the Independent Police Monitor.

“I am pleased that the police monitor has decided to accept the offer that I initially made this past January,” New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux said in a statement on Oct. 14 after a deal was struck to separate the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of the Independent Police Monitor. “I decided it was in the best interest of New Orleans to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.

“Unfortunately, my recommendation to the ERB (Ethics Review Board) to dismiss the police monitor was misinterpreted as an effort to eliminate the office; my intention was to strengthen it.

“Toward that end, I have agreed to withdraw my letter of September 24 recommending the police monitor’s dismissal and will support a charter change to place the decision to separate the offices and dedicate funding for the police monitor in the hands of the voters.

“A highly functioning and constitutional police force is essential for the future of New Orleans, and I remain committed to diligent and scrupulous oversight of the NOPD.”

Quatrevaux said in one of his reports on the operation of the NOPD that the department was not properly utilizing its available officers and recommended that the department hire civilians to perform various office tasks in order to free up additional cops to patrol the streets of New Orleans.

Rafael Goyeneche, head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission made a similar recommendation but added that the NOPD was in the midst of a three-decade manpower shortage.

Quatrevaux disputed that claim, suggesting that it was a commonly held myth.

While the NOPD’s top brass eventually announced that it would in fact hire civilians to perform office tasks to free up cops to patrol the city’s streets, a source told The Louisiana Weekly earlier this month that the NOPD has yet to do so, adding to the department’s ongoing struggle to get a handle on violent crime in New Orleans.

This article originally published in the October 26, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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