Feb 19, 2013 11:10 AM by AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans police union attorneys have urged the Civil Service Commission not to approve any promotions of officers by appointment. Instead, the lawyers argued during Monday's meeting, the commission should push the City Council to provide the funding necessary for promotion exams, which ensure advancement in the police force is merit-based and not political.
Fraternal Order of Police lodge lawyer Donovan Livaccari said the city has the obligation to finance such exams, which test officers' policing and leadership skills as well as their administrative knowledge.
For the current fiscal year, the City Council earmarked $1.4 million for the Civil Service Department, down from $1.6 million in 2012. The council denied a request from Civil Service for $147,000 to administer police sergeant tests, which would have identified candidates to fill supervisory positions in NOPD. Promotional tests have not been given in several years, so lists of officers eligible for promotions have expired or are about to.
The Times-Picayune reports Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has indicated that he hopes to fill available supervisor spots by provisional promotion, which is available as an alternative. However, Livaccari argued that provisional promotions should be reserved for emergencies.
Civil Service wasn't alone in facing operating budget cuts this year. Most city departments' budgets were slashed by between 8 and 10 percent for 2013 due to lower revenues.
NOPD was one of the few departments that got a boost this year. In part due to the anticipated cost of adopting the sweeping police consent decree unveiled in July, the force's operating budget increased from $118.9 million in 2012 to $126.7 million this year.