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Troubling trend: 6 officers leaving NOPD for every 1 coming in

“There were 25 new officers hired last year out of 2,590 applicants,” Asher said.

The number of criminal offenses is high in New Orleans at a time when the number of police officers is low and getting lower. Crime consultant Jeff Asher told the city council, the NOPD now stands at 929 commissioned officers. That’s down from more than 1200 less than 4 years ago. 

He says keeping up with the rate of attrition is difficult when you consider the small percentage of applicants who actually make it through the vetting and training process. 

“There were 25 new officers hired last year out of 2,590 applicants,” Asher said. “That’s a one or one-and-a-half percent of applicants to new hires.” 

Former NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas says the ratio of applicants to new hires has dropped in recent years. 

“In my years of experience, somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the applicants would make it all the way from to a decision to hire and put in an academy and you are still going to lose a certain percentage of that in the academy,” Serpas said. 

Police Association of New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler says out of the 2,590 applicants, only about 450 showed up to take the NOPD entrance exam. 

“We need more applicants,” Hessler said. “It’s kind of like a funnel. We need more applicants at the top because the neck is so narrow because of the stringent requirements.” 

Serpas recommends the NOPD start a cadet program in local high schools and community colleges to create a pipeline for potential new hires. He also said the department must find a way to improve morale, since fellow cops are the best recruiters. 

“How your own officers are talking about you is a very good predictor of how much interest you’re going to have in the candidates you will see more desirable to hire.” 

Hessler agrees how the department is now perceived by the rank and file is hurting recruitment. 

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, they need to change some of the ways they treat their officers,” Hessler said. “They need to change the promotion system. They need to keep working on the disciplinary system.” 

According to PANO the NOPD lost 168 officers in 2022. 

Right now, the number of officers leaving the department is more than six times greater than the number of new hires. 

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