More than half a decade after the last test was administered, New Orleans police officers have begun to prepare for the department’s sergeant exam, which is used to create a list of officers in line for promotion.
The City Council in late June gave unanimous approval to a measure dictating how the test will be financed. The test will cost $89,000, with the money reallocated from a miscellaneous account.
The exam, which was last administered six years ago, will consist of a multiple-choice test that will be given early next month. Candidates who pass that portion of the test will then take a job-simulation exam in November, which tests practical skills.
The local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police has said that the lack of testing opportunities has been detrimental to morale since it left officers with little hope of promotion and higher pay.
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas sought to bypass the Civil Service testing procedures by continuing to get the commission to approve provisional appointments he would have made himself.
That raised the ire of the FOP, which said friendships and connections, not skills, would be the criteria for selecting sergeants if a test was not administered.
“This has been a long time coming. We have a lot of new officers who’d make great sergeants,” said Raymond Burkart III, an attorney for the New Orleans FOP. “It’s incredibly important to the morale of the department. There’s been no opportunity for advancement.”
The FOP has offered free test-preparation materials to officers and will host exam preparation classes on Saturday and Sept. 18.