NEW ORLEANS— Our region in home to more than three dozen law enforcement agencies and while the job of protecting and serving citizens can be rewarding, there’s one constant to running these departments and that’s getting qualified applicants.
Sheriff Marlin Gusman has headed the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office since 2004 and he says, “This kind of work isn’t for everybody. It requires temperament, it requires strong character and a good work ethic.”
With a head count of about 780 employees, and a starting salary of $34,000, the sheriff couns OPSO as a great place to start a law enforcement career, but the demands are high.
According to Gusman, “We have 12-hour shifts. Some holidays you’ll be working, and you’re working with a difficult(prison) population to manage.”
Another local agency seeking employees is the Kenner Police Department and they face some of the same challenges.
Chief Michael Glaser stated, “We have applicants that want to be, or have an interest in law enforcement. However when we get into background investigations, they kinda wash themselves out.”
Kenner has a total of about 200 employees and included in that background check is a modern day twist of one’s social media background.
“If we see something that we want to question, we normally ask them and it depends on the response we get from the applicant,” said Glaser.
In spite of the demands, there are a variety of opportunities at the OPSO fanging from deputies that work in the courts to canine and mounted units.
Gusman added, “It’s not just about people who are commissioned and have a firearm, it’s also about who come here and work hand in hand with commissioned personnel.”
Kenner PD offers some of the region’s most competitive starting salaries and may different opportunities but the chief says one vacancy is the toughest to fill.
“We’re no different from everybody else in the country. The hardest position to hire are dispatchers. There’s a lot of research and studies that have been done, but it’s a challenge to get someone that’s capable,” said Glaser.