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Plan to give NOPD officers, first responders bonuses takes step forward

Juvenile detention & EMS workers would also get bonuses

NEW ORLEANS — After days of back-and-forth, a plan to provide NOPD officers with bonuses took a step forward.

In the meeting that turned tense at times, the Civil Service Commission and the administration of Mayor Latoya Cantrell agreed to move forward with the bonus plan, contingent on an opinion from the Louisiana Attorney General that would determine if the pay structure followed the law.  

The plan would give officers $5,000 for every five years with the department, maxing out at 20 years. The proposal also includes smaller bonuses for juvenile detention counselors, EMTs, paramedics, and mechanics.

The Police Association of New Orleans raised concerns about whether the bonuses would violate state law, but the city provided several previous attorney general opinions that city officials say supported the legality.

Mayor Cantrell also argued on desperately needing it immediately because of the shortage of police officers and other first responders. 

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During the meeting that stretched more than three hours into Friday evening, representatives for the city’s various first responder agencies testified for and against the bonuses.

Deputy Medical Director of New Orleans EMS, Dr. Megan Moreno said the need for the bonuses is dire. 

“In our agency, we are very acutely hemorrhaging employees,” said Dr. Moreno.

Mike Glasser with the Police Association of New Orleans testified that he thought the proposal would ultimately fail.

"Number one, we have to have confidence that it’s legal. Number two, I think promises of bonuses a year from now aren’t going to make a difference," said Glasser.

He added that he thinks officers need a payment plan that offers recurring raises, not one-time bonuses and said discipline of officers over trivial infractions has led to low morale. 

Supporters argued that the bonuses were not a cure-all, but an important step to stop first responders from leaving their jobs in the near future.

They also argued the impact of those departures is passed along to residents dealing with crime or emergencies.

“People are not receiving the care that they need today. We need action today,” Dr. Moreno pleaded. “I just want to make sure you understand the repercussions of delaying this further and further.”

The cities two police labor groups split on the issue.

Unlike the Police Association of New Orleans, The Fraternal Order of Police supports the bonuses, saying it’s a start.

In the end, Civil Service Commission agreed to tentatively approve the bonuses, contingent upon an opinion by the Louisiana Attorney General that affirms they’re in line with the law. 

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