Officials say recent officer arrests show positive side of department


Posted on April 24, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Two New Orleans police officers are on emergency suspension following child pornography charges for one and domestic abuse for another.

The arrests come at a time when the department is working to recruit new members.

There was good and bad news Thursday in the New Orleans police Department.

In a ceremony at police headquarters, 33 officers switched their silver badges for gold ones, bearing the title of sergeant and commanding new leadership responsibilities and a five percent raise. The chief says more than 400 officers have been promoted because of more funding.

"The numbers of supervisors in the field has been dropped over the last few years because of the different problems we've had with the budgets, and now that those budgets are being fixed and we're able to promote, it's always a great day when you can promote," said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

The bad news is that two officers are accused of wrongdoing. Sgt. Bradley Wax faces 38 counts of child pornography and Marcel Albert faces a domestic abuse battery charge.

The chief said it all is positive for recruiting.

"And you see that we take our ethics seriously. And you see that we take very seriously to have the best police department we can have. If we have to make an arrest of an employee, it's because we're going to be the best police department we can be," he added.

The chief and The Police and Justice Foundation say even though there are only 22 new recruits hired, numbers are on the rise as the new online recruiting site gains popularity.

"We've had about 2,000 applications. Civil service was setting one test a month, now they are setting four. There are at least 20 hired towards the next class. There are 40 more in the pipeline, so we'll start a recruit class of 30 very, very soon and we are already well on our way to starting that next class of 30," said Melanie Talia, the CEO of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.

A Loyola University criminologist said the new hiring criteria that has been implemented could help.

"Well that's the hope, is that people with more education, they are a little older, a little more life experience, along with other background checks and things that police do routinely, is that you try to hire the best people you can. Sometimes you miss or sometimes they change afterward. They may be fine when they get hired and something in their lives goes haywire," said Dr. George Capowich, a criminologist and statistician in the Department of Sociology at Loyola University.

There will be a lieutenants test this year, so more officers are expected to be promoted.

To apply for the NOPD online, click here