NEW ORLEANS — Help is on the way for the New Orleans Police Department, which has been struggling with a manpower shortage.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell signed a contract with a private company, On Scene Services, that responds to traffic accidents.
Cantrell posted a video on Instagram Thursday announcing the agreement.
According to OSS CEO, Ethan Cheramie, the contract was awarded to OSS around November or December.
“This contract has been a long time coming. Just about a year or so," Cheramie said, “With the holidays and Mardi Gras, we finally got this perfected earlier this week with Mayor Cantrell.”
Eyewitness News asked the Mayor's Office why it's taken so long to sign the agreement, but we were not given an answer.
The Mayor's Office said in a statement:
"These services are a tool and a force multiplier for our New Orleans Police Department and will provide civilian response to traffic accidents and other on the ground supportive services.
This will free up our police officers and aid in getting the response that our residents need in the event of a traffic accident.
It’s been a long time coming, and we are excited to move this forward."
On Scene Services started as a pilot program almost five years ago with two cars responding to traffic accidents in Orleans Parish.
“Most of the car accidents in New Orleans are minor type accidents without serious injury where a person is transported to the hospital. And that’s going to be our primary focus; to help people get in and out and on with their lives," Cheramie said.
In the coming month, they plan to expand to seven units working seven days a week.
According to Cheramie, that would reduce the NOPD's call burden by 10,000 calls a year, which equates to about 13 NOPD officers or 25,000 hours saved.
"We can free up that armed officer's time to respond to a higher priority, violent type call," Cheramie said.
Right now, the responding agents are unarmed, retired NOPD officers who are able to fill out accident reports.
OSS is hiring any retired or reserve officers in the New Orleans area.
According to Cheramie, OSS pays $30 dollars an hour, with opportunities to make more.
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