The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has yet to hire a single civilian employee months after it announced the creation of 50 civilian jobs to cope with staffing shortages.
After announcing the hiring plan in October, the department has received 160 applications from qualified candidates, but no one has been hired thus far according to the Civil Service Department.
According to Civil Service Director Amy Trepagnier, the hiring process should normally take 30 days on average.
The NOPD said the reason for the delay was due to a variety of factors.
“Applicants may withdraw from the process at any point, and applicants sometimes do not show up for interviews,” an NOPD spokesperson told Nola. “Also, the background investigation process has steps that are applicant-driven and can vary from applicant to applicant, as it is based on that particular individual.”
According to the Civil Service Department, background checks involve fingerprinting and drug screenings.
In addition, NOPD supervisors, who must review applications on top of their primary duties, may not have enough time to process the applications.
Currently, the NOPD employs just 939 commissioned officers. By comparison, the department maintained 1,491 sworn officers in 2010.
The civilian positions were created in an attempt to relieve officers’ burden of responding to non-emergency or non-violent calls.
Among the new positions posted, 25 are for investigative specialist roles and start at $49,889, and another 25 are for intake specialist positions that begin at $39,893.
According to the job descriptions posted on the city’s job portal, investigative specialists conduct policing and administrative work for the Field Operations Bureau, Public Integrity Bureau, Special Victims Unit, Alternative Police Response and Applicant Investigation.
Intake specialists will take on admin work such as police reports and investigations of non-emergency crimes such as pickpocketing, shoplifting, criminal property damage, criminal mischief, lost property and auto, bicycle, identity and credit card theft.
According to the NOPD, several candidates have passed the interview phase and are undergoing background checks.
The department has not confirmed when the positions are expected to be filled.
The NOPD is not the first police department in the country to hire civilians for police work amid staffing shortages.
The Phoenix and Baltimore police departments have also bolstered their ranks with civilian employees starting last year.
“I recently met with Chief Michael Harrison in Baltimore, and they are diligently hiring civilian investigators to respond to non-emergency issues and are able to hire qualified individuals. In New Orleans, we must quickly strive to get new professional hires in because ultimately, it’ll lead to a more productive and responsive department,” City Council President Helena Moreno said.
In addition to hiring civilians, the NOPD is also making an effort to boost hiring of sworn officers.
Indeed, the Louisiana department has lowered screening requirements for new officers by eliminating questions about marijuana use and credit scores during interviews.
The department has also offered financial incentives to new hires, including a $30,000 signing and retention bonus to be paid in March.