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Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
Email: aharris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @antwanharris

NEW ORLEANS -- It was a standing room only Sunday morning in the City of Love Church as the congregation welcomed the city's newest police chief.

The chant 'chief' echoed throughout the sanctuary as Michael Harrison and the mayor made their way to the stage.

City and NOPD leaders have visited nearly two dozen different churches in an effort to drum up more interest in joining the police force.

'As you know the money is in the budget to hire these police officers and more,' Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. 'Public safety is our number one priority. We have to make sure we have the manpower on the streets so that our police are well hired, trained and connected to the community.'

Harrison, a long-time member of the church and minister, said he was a valet before joining the force.

The city's goal is to hire 150 more officers. Officials would like to see a force of 1,600 in the coming years.

Right now the NOPD is dealing with some of lowest numbers of the department's history and a morale issue that can make joining a tough sell.

'If you have it in you to do something great, we want you to get behind the badge,' Harrison said.

The city has been dealing with a string of violence this week, and a recent shooting in New Orleans East claimed the lives of two women.

Saturday, 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson was buried after being one of two people killed in a drive-by shooting almost two weeks ago.

The church pastor said the violence is taking a toll on the city.

'Crime has no race or religion,' Bishop Lester Love said. 'It is not a political issues, it is a people issue.'

Now the city hopes under the new leadership the NOPD will march to the beat of a different drum.

The NOPD will graduate its first recruitment class of 27 in November. The chief is looking to start another class after that.

To apply to join, http://joinnopd.org.

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