City council makes New Orleans PD hiring data public to help with recruitment goals
Applications and hiring data are now available to the public through a partnership of over 500 business and community leaders
By Missy Wilkinson
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
NEW ORLEANS — Two online dashboards recently went live in an effort to hold the New Orleans Police Department accountable for its aggressive recruiting goals, as public concern persists over the size of the force and record high levels of violent crime.
The City Council last week launched its Police Hiring Dashboard, which tracks both applications and hiring. A second dashboard, which went live March 26, was created by The NOLA Coalition, a group of more than 500 businesses and community leaders that banded together to apply both political pressure and financial support to the city's efforts to stop the bloodshed.
Both online tools are simple and focus on basic information about the pace of hiring and the size of the force.
The council's dashboard, created by data analyst Jeff Asher, keeps a rolling tally of applicants over 30 days, tracks local and out-of-state applicants, and shows total applications and hires by year going back to 2014.
So far in 2023, recruiting seems to be moving at a good clip, with 18 new officers hired since January, compared to only 25 recruits who were hired all of last year. The data also show that applications spiked last month with 352 applications pouring in over a 30-day period. Of those, 221 came from out of state.
Efforts to boost recruitment and retention include $30,000 hiring bonuses and additional 5% pay raises, a fleet of new vehicles and improvements to police stations. Blue Krewe volunteers recently painted and landscaped District Police Stations 1, 3, 6 and 8.
"It takes more than money for people to stay in their jobs," said NOLA Coalition organizer and CEO of GNO, Inc. Michael Hecht. "They have to have good working conditions and feel respected."
The NOPD currently employs 941 officers, including recruits, down from nearly 1,200 officers at the end of 2019.
Civilian hiring progress
The council's dashboard also tracks the NOPD's progress in hiring civilians for 50 new jobs created in September to perform duties previously executed by uniformed officers. So far, 23 of those jobs have been filled.
Salaries start at $39,893 for intake specialists, who take phone calls, write incident reports on non-emergency crimes and investigate these crimes. Salaries start at $49,889 for investigative specialists, who assist the Field Operations Bureau, Public Integrity Bureau, Special Victims Unit, Alternative Police Response and Applicant Investigation.
To accelerate the pace of those hires, City Council member Helena Moreno, a longtime advocate of civilian efforts that shunt non-emergency police work to trained civilians, launched a working group with the NOPD, the city's Civil Service Department and the Chief Administrative Office. She is also meeting weekly with U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who oversees the federal consent decree governing the New Orleans Police Department, and other stakeholders to discuss those efforts.
"I appreciate Chief (Michelle) Woodfork's commitment to hiring civilians and pressing her leadership team to get it done," she said in an emailed statement. "But there's more work to do."
NOPD officials declined to comment on the new dashboard or the department's progress in hiring.
Analysis of two possible outcomes
In addition to applications and hires, the NOLA Coalition dashboard forecasts what could happen if progress stalls out or improves. That dashboard uses publicly available data from the NOPD, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, the Police Association of New Orleans and the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation.
The dashboard predicts the force will employ just 834 officers by 2030 if the current recruitment and attrition rates continue. Attrition sits at 15%, according to the report.
"If we do nothing and continue the current trend, then math dictates we will continue to lose officers," Hecht said. "At some point, the officer numbers will simply collapse because it won't be safe to serve."
However, if hires increase to 150 per year and attrition is drops to 10%, the city should have a relatively robust force of 1,195 officers in 2030—a number not seen since 2013.
Hecht hopes greater transparency around NOPD's hiring progress can help turn the tide.
"We know from experience that providing good information to our officials, the public and the media is one of the most basic ways to drive results," he said.
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