A fresh crop of New Orleans Police Department recruits stood at attention Monday morning in front of their mayor, their chief and a new Training Academy commander as officials inaugurated the largest recruit class since the city resumed hiring police in 2013.
Police said 39 recruits from around the country are members of NOPD Recruit Class No. 176, the largest since the end of the 2010-13 police hiring freeze that Mayor Mitch Landrieu ordered because of city budget problems.
Cmdr. Chris Goodly will oversee their training as new head of the academy, which federal monitors said in a recent report was lagging in meeting goals for improvement laid out by the NOPD’s federal consent decree.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison and Landrieu on Monday also rolled out a new initiative they hope will help speed up hiring for the depleted force. Later this week, NOPD recruiting ads will start appearing on tray liners at 18 area McDonald’s restaurants.
Goodly previously was the commander of the NOPD’s 5th District, which covers Bywater, the Upper and Lower 9th Wards and parts of the 7th Ward. He replaces Lt. Richard Williams, who lost his status as a commander when he was sent packing to the Public Integrity Bureau last month.
Cmdr. Frank Young, recently in charge of the Specialized Investigation Division, will take over from Goodly in the 5th District. Cmdr. Jimmy Scott will move from leading the SWAT team to take Young’s old job of collecting intelligence on gangs and drugs.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, who is overseeing the NOPD’s reform agreement with the federal government, has been keeping a watchful eye on the Training Academy, which is seen as a linchpin in efforts to produce better policing in New Orleans.
Morgan had limited previous recruit classes to about 30 trainees, but Harrison said she gave approval to expand the size of this class.
“In order to provide the safety that we need, to cover this city and secure this city, we need to bring on more police officers faster,” Harrison said. “So we did discuss that and got her permission.”
The recruits will undergo eight hours of training a day, Monday through Friday, for 26 weeks.