Recruitment and retention efforts for New Orleans Police, firefighters, and first responders got a big boost Thursday.
City Council members voted to lift residency restrictions believed to hinder hiring new employees.
WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to council members on both sides of the contentious rule; and he has reaction from agency that represents officers.
“This is a step that we can take now,” councilwoman Susan Guidry said.
Guidry is one of six New Orleans City Council members who voted to relax parts of the rule that placed residency restrictions on first responders.
The so-called domicile rule forced police officers, firefighters, and other first responders to live within Orleans Parish.
Now that requirement has been permanently lifted.
“With what is feel is a crisis that we have now of too few police officers, we decided to go ahead and make it an entire exemption for our first responders.”
The majority vote makes a job as a first responder more appealing to potential recruits living in surrounding parishes.
It will also help with retention.
Councilman James Gray voted against the changes.
“If you want to walk down my street with a gun and a stick you need to be willing to live in my neighborhood,” Gray said.
Gray thinks pulling the plug on the domicile rule will reduce the city’s property tax base, and encourage spending in other parishes.
“Those are pot holes we can’t fix because of the money being spent in other parishes, street lights we can’t fix because of money spent in other parishes and those are jobs denied people who are willing to live in this parish,” Gray said.
“It was a victory for the city, it was a victory for the officers, and it was a victory for the police department,” Raymond Burkhart III said.
Raymond Burkhart is with the Fraternal Order of Police.
“And we commend all six council members who voted in favor and certainly understand councilman gray’s position, but we respectfully disagree with it; and you have to respect a difference of opinion,” Burkhart said.
The domicile rule does not apply to any city employee hired before January 1st, 2013.
Council members Kristin Palmer and LaToya Cantrell have already asked NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas to consider relaxing the education requirements for new recruits.