The Civil Service Commission will recommend that the City Council adopt a budget for 2015 that includes a 10 percent pay raise for New Orleans police officers — double the 5 percent proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
The commission voted unanimously Monday to endorse a report from its staff that calls for a 20 percent raise over three years. It is up to the City Council, which will adopt a 2015 budget this month, to decide whether to fund that request.
The recommendation calls for police officers’ salaries to rise by 10 percent in 2015 and by a further 5 percent in both 2016 and 2017. The commission’s staff made that proposal in September.
The staff began studying officers’ pay earlier this year at the request of the Police Association of New Orleans, which said the lack of an across-the-board salary increase for officers since 2007 was crushing morale and causing officers to quit the force.
In October, Landrieu announced that his recommended budget for 2015 included a 5 percent raise for officers. That works out to an average increase of $2,200 per officer and would cost a total of $4.2 million.
The Fraternal Order of Police said the mayor’s proposal was inadequate and called it “a slap in the face.”
Both PANO and the Fraternal Order of Police welcomed the commission’s action Monday. FOP attorney Claude Schlesinger said the proposed raise would go a long way toward attracting new officers and retaining those already on the job.
The NOPD today has about 1,145 sworn officers, down almost 30 percent from 1,546 in 2009. The current figure includes two recruit classes now in training.
“We can’t make up that gap at the rate we’re going,” Schlesinger said. “There has to be something to break the logjam.”
Before the vote, the administration tried to persuade the Civil Service Commission to recommend only that officers receive a further raise and not set a specific percentage.
“I think it would be appropriate to go ahead and send a recommendation over to the City Council for a pay increase,” said Alexandra Norton, the administration’s liaison to the commission. “But I think it’s probably premature to say what that pay increase should be over multiple years because that’s something that comes out through the budget process.”
Norton said the commission’s proposal, if adopted, would have a “massive impact to the city’s budget.”
Under the commission’s proposal, a police recruit’s salary would rise from the current $34,797 to $38,434 in 2015. That amount would grow to $40,391 in 2016 and to $42,449 in 2017.