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NOBTS opens space for New Orleans Police Department recruitment event

NOPD Interim Superintendent Michelle Woodfork speaks to TV and print media reporters at the NOBTS Luter Student Center. The site was opened to the NOPD for a recruitment event at a time when the number of active officers is at an historic low. NOBTS photo

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — The Fred Luter Jr. Student Center at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is often the site of student enlistment events but this week, a different kind of recruitment took place. New Orleans Police Department personnel were on site to greet community members interested in joining the force.

Jamie Dew, NOBTS president, said opening the LSC to the NOPD for the job recruitment and application event reflects the seminary’s commitment to caring for the community by supporting local law enforcement personnel.

“We told [NOPD], ‘We know you’re working hard. How can we help?’” Dew said. “It’s a good partnership and a good relationship that’s beginning to form.”

The two-day event offered applications for officer and non-officer positions within the department at a time when the number of officers is historically low. TV station WDSU reported July 18 that NOPD is down to 900 officers, numbers which put them “on track to be the lowest since 1947” by the end of this year.

Interim NOPD Superintendent Michelle Woodfork, a 32-year veteran of the force and the first woman to serve in the position, was on hand at the Fred Luter Jr. Student Center (LSC) to respond to local TV and other media reporters.

Woodfork fielded reporters’ questions at the event and said that while there is “work to do,” the department is “seeing much progress.” Woodfork added that the recruitment initiative is nationwide and offers opportunities for everyone.  

In an interview, Woodfork was asked about the importance of the faith community to the police force and to a stable community.

“It’s very important that the faith community be involved with the New Orleans Police Department and the work we’re trying to do to make the city safer,” Woodfork said. “It’s important that the spiritual community have a seat at the table.”

Woodfork noted her personal interest in involving the faith community.

“It’s very important to me because my faith is very strong. I’m a believer in God,” Woodfork said.

During the spring semester, NOBTS invited Woodfork to a chapel service where students and faculty gathered around her to pray. Prior to the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans this year, the seminary, in partnership with NAMB’s Send Relief Serve Tour and the local non-profit Infinite Blessings, hosted an outdoor picnic on campus for NOPD police officers and their families.

Woodfork praised Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, and other pastors in the community for their support, and noted a special thanks to Dew and his leadership team.  

“[Dew] is probably one of the most sincere people I’ve ever met in my life,” Woodfork said. “Very genuine. Very honest. It’s extremely important that we have his support and the support of the Baptist seminary.”

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  • Marilyn Stewart