By Allen Johnson Jr.
Armed with more than $1 million in city funding for a media campaign, NOPD is about to launch a massive recruiting drive in March, says Heidi Unter, chief operating officer of the private New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation. Police Chief Warren Riley says the force is several hundred officers short of the 1,700 cops needed to protect the city, post-Katrina. The recent murder of a police officer has not discouraged potential applicants. Inquiries about recruiting have been up, not down, since the death of Officer Nicola Cotton, Unter says. Cotton was shot to death by a mental patient Jan. 28. NOPD training officers this week will receive special instruction on dealing with mental patients at a law enforcement seminar in Monroe. Dr. Jan Johnson, a clinical psychiatrist at Tulane University Medical Center, recently praised NOPD as one of the best-educated police departments in the country when it comes to handling the mentally ill. Despite the strain of working long hours since the fourth quarter of last year, Unter says there have been no reports of major disciplinary problems in the ranks. However, she could cite no official statistics to support that claim because NOPDs Public Integrity Bureau has not posted its quarterly reports on the departments Web site (www.nopd.com) since 2004.