Police Support in the Michael Brown Era.

Media overlooks urban cops and safety stakeholders working together. Ratings and newsroom muckrakers favor riots and recrimination. Police support still exists in urban areas, no matter how much some wish otherwise.

Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers and my Generation X populate ranks of urban safety stakeholders. I hope the fact police support is solid despite past social turbulence is noted.

My maternal grandparents and divorced mother raised me in the civic values of their day. They never once made a negative comment about law enforcement. Obviously, this is in stark contrast to current anti-police sentiment.

One simple realization should unite urban police officer with urban safety stakeholder: one wants to lock bad guys up and the other doesn’t want to be menaced by them. Together, they can create safety which is prevention oriented like police athletic leagues and explorer posts alongside joint protection partnerships such as neighborhood watch, department-run or recognized citizens on patrol ( COPs ), Volunteers in Policing ( VIPs ) and Citizens Academies.

Police support still exists among urban safety stakeholders, even in the Michael Brown era. I predict growth in defiance of an anti-police media/militant narrative. Bad guys in our zip codes haven’t closed up shop to hit the talk show circuit . They’re content hitting heads, homes and ‘hoods from coast to coast.

-Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, Your UrbanSafetyist. @nadraenzi on twitter.

Nola.com’s Anti-Cop Cartoon

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Open Letter to the New Orleans Times-Picayune Editor:

The “Miranda Rights, Last Rites ” cartoon by your editorial cartoonist showed profound contempt for the American police officer. 

I’m not a member of law enforcement but am a police supporter in my capacities as advocate and ” urbansafetyist ” ( grassroots consultant to inner city events and enterprises ). The stereotypical image of a prejudiced White police officer reminded me of degrading depictions of American Blacks from a less enlightened era. 

It was just that casually revolting, as if a universal truth were announced. The American police officer is disrespected enough without cartoons like this slapping him or her in the face! 

I am proudly a brother who doesn’t hate blue ( police ).

 -Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, Urban Safetyist. @nadraenzi on twitter. 

Fellow police supporters, feel free to share your displeasure at ContactUs

 

 

Blue is a Civil Rights Color, Too

No American group has the market cornered on unfair treatment. I type this as an American raised in the South and stand by my statement. That said, our police officers are a US group mistreated like no other. The blue ( and other colors ) of their uniforms places them in a unique minority status.

In the era of camera phone transparency, one-sided footage ends careers or burns portions of cities. While strategic ” blue flu ” outbreaks express displeasure, officers are the sole minority which can’t voice their opinion. Police unions are the exception to this vocational gag order. Their representatives and attorneys speak forcefully for silenced peers.

My suggestion is they shouldn’t speak alone. Stakeholders should stand beside police unions to form a united front as active in uplifting officers as opponents are in tearing them down. Urban stakeholders especially can draw upon our own minority experience to better understand the few who wear blue.

Opponents hostile to inner citizen and officer alike pit both against each other. The key to defeating very destructive plans is unlikely unity between these groups. Otherwise, free reign is granted career criminals and political agitators to be held harmless no matter what they do. Hostage inner citizens and urban officers are most at risk in this scenario. It behooves them to put aside inflamed issues and fight a common threat.

The officer responding to a call for service in a low income, high crime area is also a minority. He or she feels stereotyped; over-scrutinized by prejudiced spectators; demonized by media; subjected to selective enforcement and malicious prosecution and, ironically, concludes police lives don’t matter either. It’s high time we realize blue is a civil rights color too. Lives will be saved when we do.

-Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, Your UrbanSafetyist. @nadraenzi on twitter. UrbanSafetyism blog http://www.urbansafetyism.blogspot.com

More Officers & Engaged Community Needed

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Yesterday, a street cop friend and I had our usual informal, free wheeling policy talk. We discussed two of my favorite alternative public safety models, the British police community support officer ( PCSO ) and the global Guardian Angels street patrol, founded in New York. 

He vetoed the PCSO concept, stating that non-police officers like animal control and parking enforcement already exist which can issue summons. His opinion was identical to a public position taken by the Police Association of New Orleans ( PANO ) president regarding the now-defunct Nola Patrol. Nola Patrol was to address quality of life, parking and traffic concerns in the French Quarter. The PANO head noted NOPD; parking enforcement and public safety rangers already addressed those issues. I appreciate reluctance to duplicate PCSOs in America. British police unions-unsuccessfully- opposed them, too. Active duty police feel more officers, not specialized spin offs, are the answer to crime suppression. 

New Orleans Police Department has serious recruitment and retention problems, while violent crime soars upward. He also felt the Guardian Angels should be replaced by engaged communities solving problems en masse, instead of full contact volunteers. 

Engaged community is the heart of my UrbanSafetyism, where we create safety instead of awaiting rationing from public and private sources. Our talk ended with agreement upon increased police staffing and community action as solutions agreeable to any reasonable person. Engaging communities is quicker than awaiting recruits to complete the academy and field training. 

Urban stakeholders and police have common ground which shouldn’t be surrendered to well publicized agitators opposed to consensus. 

Consensus, not conflict, creates safety. 

-Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, Your UrbanSafetyist. @nadraenzi on twitter.

NOPD Superintendent’s Meeting Last Night.


Note from Donovan:  I invited Nadra Enzi, aka Cap Black, to be a contributor at signal108.com.  I think that he has a unique perspective that would be beneficial to everyone.  Cap Black is not affiliated with the FOP or the NOPD.  So, his positions may not mirror my positions or the FOP’s positions.  However, I have generally found Cap’s positions to be insightful and relevant.  I welcome Cap Black to our community and look forward to reading what he has to contribute.


This is my first post in Signal 108. I’m very glad to be here and lend whatever aid I can to a very important cause. For the record, I’m not a police officer, but am very active in creating safety with embattled urban stakeholders and openly supporting police in areas where that is sadly rare.

Police are part of the solution, not the problem, in high crime areas.

I attended the NOPD Superintendent’s public meeting tonight at Franklin Ave. Baptist church. To my surprise, his panelists included urban stakeholders actually engaged in mentoring, conflict mediation and with the Independent Police Monitor, civilian oversight. The chief of the unpopular Public Integrity Bureau was also a panelist, which was disappointing.

It was good hearing about the PeaceKeepers mediating conflict. It reminds folks that urban stakeholders can actually police ourselves. The meeting otherwise went as expected, with the public comment period mostly dominated by hostages whose issues sadly remain unaddressed years after I first heard them.

Bro Al Mims presentation on recent rudeness experienced while trying to get a police report was very well received. It was a plea of an urban police supporter who didn’t initially get support in return. The upside is the subject whose threat he needed documented may soon find himself arrested.

It underscored my disengagement from detente with NOPD leadership. I understand that my position as an urban stakeholder who who wants results from inquiries; supports police unions and assertive interdiction of crime places me outside some comfort zones.

In a community overflowing with violent crime, apologists and the like, all NOPD leadership can do is exchange pleasantries with me at events and visa versa. I don’t support the federal consent decree. I don’t support the Public Integrity Bureau as currently led and constituted- nor do local police unions. I don’t support the retention-killing Office of Police Secondary Employment, ironically born from a suggestion by a former assistant United States attorney ( AUSA ) who was removed for posting privileged information on Nola.com, under aliases.

I support a pro-active agency that recognizes urban stakeholders as partners- not pariahs to be ignored or patronized. I support an agency that makes career criminals a priority, not one with handcuffs applied by DC or activist lawyers. Finally, I support an agency whose policies are shaped by its unions.

Last night’s event, hosted by the NOPD superintendent, tells me what I support won’t materialize anytime soon.

-Nadra Enzi aka Cap Black, Your UrbanSafetyist. @nadraenzi on twitter. UrbanSafetyism blog.

 

 

What types of disciplinary investigations should I contact my #FOP attorney about?

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The short answer to this question is ALL of them.  There is no investigation too simple or straightforward.  Quite often I hear “I didn’t call you because it was just a missing court case” or “I didn’t call you because it was just a BWC case.”  Unfortunately, my response is commonly “Well, one of the rules of the Salary Reimbursement Option is that you have to be represented by one of the FOP attorneys in order to qualify for the SRO.”  What is an SRO you ask?

The FOP Legal Defense Plan includes what is known as the Salary Reimbursement Option (“SRO”).  The SRO allows officers to make up for salary lost as a result of an unpaid suspension.  In New Orleans, the SRO allows officers to recover up to 5 days of suspension at $150 per day.  In other words, when you get a 1-day suspension for missing court, the FOP will pay you $150 if you choose not to file a Civil Service appeal.

Why not file a Civil Service appeal?  Well, that is the benefit of having one of the FOP attorneys on the case from the beginning.  Your FOP attorneys have been handling disciplinary actions for years.  By the end of the investigation, your FOP attorney should be able to give you a pretty good idea of your chances of success on appeal.  So, after a disciplinary hearing, you and your FOP attorney can discuss whether you are better off filing an appeal with Civil Service or submitting the disciplinary letter for the Salary Reimbursement Option.

I deal with disciplinary investigations every day.  Most officers deal with disciplinary investigations 2 or 3 times in a career.  As such, one cannot expect officers to be thoroughly familiar with the ins and outs of being an accused officer in a disciplinary investigation.  What is the legal burden?  What evidence is allowed?  When does the 60-day rule apply?  When does the 60 days begin and end?  Is the disciplinary hearing considered part of the 60 days?  How long after a disciplinary hearing can an officer expect to receive the disciplinary letter or suspension days?  When can I file a Civil Service appeal?  What is this email I received about a hearing about an extension that cannot be continued?

The answers to some of these questions change based on rulings of appellate courts in Louisiana.  The answers to other questions changes based on changes in an administration.  The point is that even if an officer is tasked with completing disciplinary investigations, there are still aspects of disciplinary investigations which are unknown.

As a member of the FOP Legal Defense Plan, an officer is entitled to representation at no cost to the officer.  We do not judge whether or not an officer deserves legal defense.  We do not judge the accused officer.  If you are a member of the FOP Legal Defense Plan and you become the accused officer or a witness officer in an internal disciplinary investigation, your legal representation is guaranteed.  We are there to protect your rights.  Calling your FOP attorney can also make you eligible for the FOP’s salary reimbursement option when you don’t have a chance on appeal.  Call, text, or email today.

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Opinions on Police Unions and Officer Involved Shootings

I read an opinion piece by Times-Picayune writer Jarvis DeBerry, a frequent critic of police officers and the FOP who believes he is the only one entitled to righteous indignation, which disparages police unions for supporting union members.  The claim is that police unions ignore what is plainly obvious to everyone else in order to protect their members.  I have a couple of thoughts about that assertion. 

Police unions have a responsibility to look out for their members.  These situations are often complex legal situations which the media and some members of the public see as crystal clear.  In investigations such as those following an officer involved shooting, police officers are not relegated to a watered down version of their constitutional rights, as the U.S. Supreme Court has stated.  They have the same constitutional rights as everyone else.  

Officers’ constitutional rights seem to be something else that opinion writers have a problem with.  I have seen opinions lately lamenting the fact that officers don’t have to make a statement about an officer involved shooting for 30 days.  This statutory provision specifically relates to administrative investigations, not criminal investigations and it should be pointed out that no FOP attorney has ever advised an officer to sit quiet for those 30 days.   Every American is entitled to not make a statement to police in a criminal investigation.  In fact, most Americans don’t ever have to make a statement to police.  Police officers can be compelled to make a statement even if they wish to assert their constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent.  If we had to read opinions every time a member of the criminal defense bar advised a client not to speak to the police, we wouldn’t have time to read anything else. 

Next, even if an officer was wrong, that does not necessarily mean that the officer’s actions constitute a crime.  The criminal law is what it is.  It is not my responsibility to defend the legislation, but we as a society value freedom and have implemented some pretty steep burdens to meet in order to send someone to jail.  

As spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans and an attorney who frequently represents police officers, I think that we have taken a pretty reasonable position regarding recent events in Baton Rouge and Minnesota.  That position can be summed up pretty easily as we should not jump to conclusions because we lack crucial information.  If it turns out that these officers acted with criminal intent such as Antoinette Frank or Len Davis, then we would hope the criminal justice system would do what it is supposed to do.  If it turns out that the officers’ actions do not rise to the level of a criminal violation, then we can only hope that the officers will not have to defend themselves in court.  Recent criminal prosecutions in Baltimore seem to be an examples of cases which should never have been brought.  One way or another, I would go down fighting for the constitutional rights of FOP members.  So, if the accusation is that the FOP is always fighting for its members, I admit it.

The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest police organization in New Orleans, representing over 1,000 active New Orleans Police Officers and another 1,000 retired law enforcement officers.  In Louisiana, the FOP represents over 6,000 commissioned law enforcement officers and retirees.  

The Fraternal Order of Police is the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 330,000 members in more than 2,200 lodges. We are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities. We are committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those we serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation. No one knows the dangers and the difficulties faced by today’s police officers better than another officer, and no one knows police officers better than the FOP.

NOPD’s Instructions from an Authoritative Source Revision

On May 15, 2016, the NOPD put a revised disciplinary penalty schedule into effect.  Alleged violations which occurred prior to May 15, 2016 will be governed by the old disciplinary penalty schedule.  Alleged offenses occurring on or after May 15, 2016 will be guided by the new disciplinary penalty schedule.  The changes to Instructions from an Authoritative Source are worth noting for officers and supervisor who might be tasked with conducting formal disciplinary investigations.  

An Instruction from an Authoritative Source is any instruction which would govern the actions of a police officer.  Most commonly, the rules and regulations found in the NOPD Operations Manual are Instructions from an Authoritative Source.  Verbal orders from a superior officer are Instructions from an Authoritstive Source.  Instructions can go beyond that.  For example, CAO memorandum apply to all city employees (unless they specifically state otherwise), so they are Instructions from an Authoritstive Source.  Operations Bureau Policies are Instructions from an Authoritstive Source for officers assigned to the Operations Bureau, but not officers assigned to ISB or MSB. 

There have always been two rules governing Instructions from an Authoritative Source.  Before May 15, 2016, the two rules governing Instructions were Rule 4, Performance of Duty, Paragraph 2, Instructions from an Authoritative Source and Rule 4, Performance of Duty, Paragraph 4(c)(6), Failure to comply with any instructions, oral or written, from any authoritative source.  The penalties for these administrative violations were roughly the same.  One was Letter of Reprimand to 3 days and one was Letter of Reprimand to 5 days.  The May 15, 2016 revision makes two important changes.  

Rule 4, Paragraph 2 is still Instructions from an Auoritative Source.  However, Rule 4, Paragraph 2 is now a “C” offense.  In the new every rule paragraph has its own letter scheme, a “C” offense  means a sustained violation would result in a 2-10 day suspension.  The presumptive penalty is 5 days.  The penalty with mitigating circumstances can go down to 2 days and the penalty with aggravating circumstances can go as high as 10 days.  That is a pretty big jump from the prior penalty of R-3.  There is also a penalty for refusing to give a statement in an administrative investigstion, which carries a presumptive penalty of termination.  

Rule 4, Paragraph 4(c)(6) is changed to Rule 4, Paragraph 4(b)(6).  Rule 4, Paragraph 4(b)(6) is a “B” penalty.  A level “B” offense carries a presumptive penalty of 1 day.  The penalty with mitigating circumstances is Letter of Reprimand and the penalty with aggravating circumstances is 2 days.  So, basically, Rule 4, Paragraph 4(b)(6) has a penalty of R-2, which is less than the prior penalty of R-5.  

The delineation between the two rules is that Rule 4, Paragraph 2 is intended to address more flagrant disregard of the rules or insubordination.  Rule 4, Paragraph 4(b)(6) is intended to address negligent violations of whatever instruction happens to be at issue.  Therefore, the penalty for the flagrant disregard of an order carries a more severe penalty than the purely negligent disregard of an order. 

The problem as I see it is that Rule 4, Paragraph 2 was always the go-to Instructions violation.  This has to change in order to apply the rules as intended and avoid serious penalties that might not be warranted by the circumstances.  It is important for supervisors conducting an internal investigation to make sure the correct rules are in play. It is also important for supervisors to know that they can find one charge not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded and include an additional sustained violation, if necessary.  For example, if Rule 4, Paragraph 2 is inappropriate, one could find Rule 4, Paragraph 2 unfounded and Rule 4, Paragraph 4(b)(6) sustained as an additional sustained violation.  That would help to ensure that come penalty time, the accused officer would not be hit with a “C” penalty when a “B” penalty would be more appropriate.  

Every accused officer is entitled to legal representation during a disciplinary investigation. Witness officers are also entitled to legal representation during a disciplinary investigation.  The FOP Legal Defense Plan provides its members with representation as a witness or an accused officer.  I want to encourage FOP members to call their FOP attorney as soon as they learn of an internal investigation and every step of the way.  I know that officers are generally unfamiliar with the disciplinary procedures.  It is helpful to have someone with you who understands the procedures and is on your side.  

All FOP members are welcome to call me about any disciplinary issues.  I am available for questions about non disciplinary issues as well.  No disciplinary investigation is too unimportant or silly.  Due to progressive discipline, a stupid violation can lead to a serious penalty.  In addition, the FOP Salary Reimbursement Option is only available to Legal Defense Plan members who are represented by an FOP attorney during the course of the investigation.   In addition, it is extremely helpful to have been involved with an investigation from the beginning if the case is going to result in a Civil Service appeal.