NEWORLEANS-- There are now a few more cops on the beat in New Orleans where the New Orleans Police Department is suffering from a severe manpower shortage. Friday, recruit class #169 took the police department oath and hit the streets.
The 23 recruits marched into the Dillard University auditorium to take their oath after six months of training at the city's police academy.
Superintendent Ronal Serpas had some advice for the second academy class under his administration. 'The only way that you can serve the people and then to serve one another is to never do anything that would tarnish the badge you where today.'
Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro told the new officers to respect everyone, even those who don't return the same respect.
'Today's defendant could be tomorrow's witness,' said Cannizzaro. 'A witness's cooperation or lack there of, is often based on upon their experience with this department.'
The officers took the oath at a time when the NOPD is rebuilding its ranks. The number of officers has slipped below 1200, to the lowest point in 35 years.
The department is now aggressively recruiting with a new TV commercial. The city also plans to spend $300,000 to attract new officers.
'(Thursday), we passed a budget that's going to add 150 police officers to the force, five recruit classes, we're really excited about that,' said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. 'By the end of the year we're going to have 100 new police cars on the street.'
The mayor is hoping local job seekers consider a career with the NOPD.
'We're going to work with the police foundation,' said Landrieu. 'I'm putting out a call to the people of the city, there are 150 really wonderful jobs that are available now. We need the people of the city of New Orleans to step up and do their duty.'
Serpas says the NOPD's rule requiring officers to live in the city is not what kept his department from filling up another recruit class this year.
'If you recall in 2012, we weren't recruiting,' said Serpas. 'It's not fair to say that you couldn't fill anything in 2013 because you had no build up of recruiting in 2012.'
Serpas claims recruitment is now picking up.
'What I think is happening is we're building the momentum now, as we move into the end of this year and into early next year, I think we're going to see a much more robust pipeline of candidates.'
New Officer Christopher Puccio says he ready to protect and serve.
'We have to treat our fellow New Orleanians with respect and do the job we know we're trained to do,' said Puccio.