The proposal includes a $5000 signing bonus for successful NOPD recruits and $5,000 – $20,000 one-time retention payments for current officers

With high vacancy rates across departments, the City of New Orleans on Tuesday (Feb. 8) unveiled a proposal aimed at improving the recruitment and retention in public safety agencies including the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center, New Orleans Equipment Maintenance Division, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD).

“With the current full-time public safety positions that are budgeted, we definitely have to focus on filling these critical vacancies at this time,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Our public safety team has been doing the work and saving lives every day throughout this pandemic, and we will certainly feel the impacts of these vacancies if we do not ramp up our efforts to both recruit, as well as retain our public safety workforce.”

The proposal lays out several proposals aimed at recruiting and retaining public safety employees, including a $5,000 signing bonus for NOPD recruits completing training and retention payments ranging from $5.000 to $20,000 for current officers at the 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of service mark.

The plan also calls for targeted retention incentives for commissioned police and other high-demand positions, reforms to the City’s Human Resources division, and a series of policy changes within the Civil Service Commission, City Council and state Legislature to address long-standing barriers to hiring and retaining employees.

Proposed reforms for human resources include the city hiring staff dedicated to recruitment, retention, and performance monitoring of public safety hires, according to the proposal.

Other proposals include an expanded referral program, increased pay for highly-skilled positions, additional personnel hires to focus on long-term recruitment and workplace culture, changes to marijuana and domicile hiring policies, and longevity increases for lateral hires that include time served in other jurisdictions.

The Mayor’s office will submit proposals for consideration at the upcoming Civil Service Commission meetings. If approved, commissioned police officers could begin receiving retention payments based on their length of service, as well as additional catch-up payments for officers currently serving. Juvenile detention counselors, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and mechanics could receive payments upon approval from the Civil Service Commission, and again after a year of service.

The plan is expected to cost about $18 million to roll out and $4 million annually and must be approved by the Civil Service Commission and the New Orleans City Council. The Mayor says revenue for the proposal could come from the City’s second installment of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“The proposed reforms presented today provide a number of immediate, as well as long-term solutions that address internal operations, policy reforms, and pay reforms,” said Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño. “These new initiatives are the first step in that process and provides a clear path toward hiring and retaining the best of the best, while also addressing long-standing barriers the City has faced when hiring and retaining top talent. With these initiatives, we are hopeful that together, we will be able to swiftly enact these changes to solve one of the City’s most pressing problems.”

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