This week, the New Orleans Police Department made a change in their policy as a way of attracting new police officers. While historically, NOPD recruits were disqualified if they admitted to using marijuana, on Monday, the department unanimously agreed to relax this policy.
This marks a significant moment, representing just how much the city has changed in a short span of time. A few years ago, the justice system in New Orleans was handing out long prison sentences for marijuana possession.
While the change in the stance of the NOPD is significant, it’s still not a pro-weed organization. NOLA.com explains that the new policy makes it clear that new recruits won’t be disqualified over marijuana use within the past year, but they still must pass a drug test before getting the job. If accepted, officers must not use drugs while in the force.
New Orleans is currently facing a low number of police officers and high levels of crime rate. This crisis was prompted by the pandemic, where the department reported having under 1,000 cops for the first time in decades. In the case of crime, homicides have soared 141% over the past years. New Orleans currently has the nation’s highest level of homicides, with 52 homicides per 100,000 residents.
“Action must be taken now if there is ever a chance to save the city and bring the reputation of being a city where tourists can come to party and celebrate and not become victims,” said Fausto Pichardo, a consultant to the city’s police department. “The residents of New Orleans also need and deserve to have a police force that can make them feel safe and be there for them every time they call 911.”
The New Orleans police department isn’t the first to relax its marijuana policies in hopes of appealing to more recruits and with being more in line with the attitude of its people. It joins states like Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, and New York City, which removed marijuana from their list of automatic disqualifiers.