NEWORLEANS- City leaders say New Orleans needs a police department with 1,600 officers. Right now, the NOPD has a troop strength of less than 1,140 officers.
According to NOPD records, 13 cops have retired or resigned since July. Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Donovan Livaccari says effects of the low manpower are easily felt on the streets.
'The citizens feel that effect every time they call 911 and they have to wait a little bit longer for a police officer to show up at their door,' said Livaccari.
The NOPD is hoping for some 'divine intervention' when it comes to attracting new officers. Sunday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, police commanders and city leaders will be fanning out across the city, looking for police recruits.
'We call it Super Sunday,' said Landrieu. 'We'll be in churches across the city. Either I'll be there or somebody else from the department or a community leader will be there to talk about what you need to do to become a police officer. We eased the residency requirement and now we have a department on the upswing. We're going to go out and really talk to people, hand to hand, and ask them to join our effort to make the city of New Orleans a safe place.'
'It's an opportunity for our officers to go into our churches and synagogues and mosques,' said NOPD Interim Superintendent Michael Harrison. 'We can touch people and they can touch us. They can actually sit by us and we worship with them and then asked them to join us in this fight.'
Besides public outreach, police officer groups say there are other things the city should be doing to beef up the manpower. 'We could really benefit from pay raises,' said Livaccari. 'We need to encourage re-instatements to be hired, there's police officers who would like to come back. We also need to encourage lateral transfers from other police departments because those guys we can get on to the street quicker than a new recruit.'
The city has money in the budget to hire 150 new police officers. Mayor Landrieu is hoping to find some of them in the pews this Sunday.
'One of the thing's people ask all the time is how can I get a job,' said Landrieu. 'Mayor we need you to produce jobs for us. We need the economy to produce jobs. We actually have 150 jobs and they're paid for and we're ready to go.'
'We're going to make an appeal for people who want to do something great with their lives,' said Harrison. 'We have jobs to offer and great careers with a great benefit package. This is a golden time to get in.' Mayor Landrieu and Interim Chief Harrison will give remarks about their partnership with the faith-based community at The City of Love Church on Sunday.