New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Thursday announced an $80 million salary and benefit plan to lure fresh New Orleans Police Department recruits and keep current cops, a redeployment to tackle alarming 911 response times and the arrival of a former leader of the NYPD as a consultant to help Superintendent Shaun Ferguson turn around the city’s struggling police force.
The steps, detailed by Cantrell at a City Hall news conference as she was flanked by top police brass and other New Orleans criminal-justice leaders, is the mayor’s boldest plan yet to try and tackle the city’s dire violent crime surge after calls from residents, businesses and civic groups for action, NOLA.com reports.
The pay package – which includes $30,000 bonuses for recruits who make a starting salary of $42,411– represents a massive injection of funding over the next three years. And while it would be largely covered by federal pandemic relief funds, the package could run into competing priorities at the City Council, which must approve the plan. Some council members who have pushed for actions such as adding civilians to the force are skeptical that throwing money at officers will be enough to keep them on the job.
The move comes as City officials are desperately trying to stem the bleeding on a force that has dipped below 1,000 cops for the first time in decades. As numbers have dwindled, 911 response times have soared to a 31-minute average for high-priority emergency calls. And residents are growing increasingly frustrated with Cantrell and her team over the surge in carjackings, murders and other violent crimes over the past two years.