Aug 23, 2023 - News

NOPD "unlikely" to hit goal of 1,200 officers

Photo illustration of a New Orleans police car with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As the number of commissioned New Orleans Police Department officers hits a decadeslong low, interim superintendent Michelle Woodfork says she's committed to boosting applications for the force.

Driving the news: Woodfork told gathered media members at a recruiting event last week she hoped to see the NOPD achieve its goal of having 1,200 commissioned officers within the next two years.

  • "We have our foot on the gas with this," Woodfork said Friday, according to WWL.
  • The event was the latest step in the department taking over its own recruiting efforts from the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, a nonprofit previously charged with the task.

Yes, but: It's an admittedly ambitious number.

  • Jeff Asher, a crime data analyst and consultant who works with City Council, told | The Times-Picayune that hitting the 1,200 officer goal was "enormously unlikely."
  • That's because the number of people going into the application pipeline would need to be far higher to ensure enough recruits pass the Civil Service Exam and make it all the way through the police academy while also closing the gap created by attrition from the department.

By the numbers: The NOPD roster currently tallies 893 officers and 66 recruits. That's the lowest number of officers since 1947.

  • The last time the New Orleans police force tallied close to 1,200 was in 2019, when the list of commissioned officers counted 1,154 in its ranks.
  • Meanwhile, NOPD applications have been on a steady decline since the beginning of August after peaking this year in April.
  • The department has so far received 2,378 applications in 2023 and brought on 71 recruits.

Of note: As an interim police chief, Woodfork is one of four finalists for the permanent role, and she took the recruiting event as an opportunity to tout her confidence that she'll be named to it.

  • "I have proven that I am the person for the job," she said.

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