NEW ORLEANS -- Should you be required to live in the same parish you work? That question is at the core of a proposed ordinance by two members of the New Orleans City Council.
Council President Jackie Clarskon and District A councilmember Susan Guidry authored an ordinance that would temporarily lift the city's so-called domicile law for one year.
The residency requirement for police, firefighters and first responders has been long standing. It basically requires those among those ranks to live within Orleans Parish.
One reason for the requirement cited by officials over the years is the law would help ensure city agencies are staffed by parish residents. But following Hurricane Katrina, and the extreme housing shortage that developed, the city lifted the residency requirement because so many first responders didn't have a place within the city to live.
Now, as the New Orleans Police Department struggles to find new recruits, many are calling for an end to the domicile law.
"We did a lot of research on it, we felt like it was hindering, impeding first responders with the total ability to recruit," said Clarkson.
NOPD force level is hovering around 1,200. Superintendant Ronal Serpas has said he needs and additonal 300 officers to provide the level of response he expects.
"We all feel like there is a crisis, in the number of police officers we're at now," said Guidry.
Guidry and Clarkson believe by taking a residency requirement out of the mix the search for qualified applicants, especially those from within metropolitan New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, would be broader and better.
Sandy Shilstone with the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation says the domicile law only hurts recruitment at a time when the pool of applicants needs to grow. The foundation seeks to help NOPD by raising money for recruitment.
"I think it'll be easier to get a recruit from out of state to move to Orleans Parish than it will be get the recruit who lives in the metropolitan region to leave their home to move to Orleans Parish," said Shilstone.
The reality for NOPD is it's losing more officers than it can replace. It's something that will be at forefront when the proposal goes up for a vote the next regular council meeting in October.