Hurricane Barry Payroll

Recently, Mayor Cantrell declared a state of emergency due to Hurricane Barry in the Gulf of Mexico. The Fraternal Order of Police (We) received numerous phone calls from officers concerned that the city would pay them correctly. I spoke with the police administration several times and Asst. Superintendent Noel assured me that Superintendent Ferguson was committed to making sure NOPD paid everyone correctly. An email to NOPDAll indicating that there could be a delay in when NOPD would be making payments for the declared state of emergency got officers worried again.

FOP representatives immediately checked with a random sample of officers to see if they had been paid correctly. The officers we spoke with consistently indicated they had been paid for the proper number of hours. Anyone who has ever tried to interpret a post event pay stub knows that making sure the number of hours is correct is the easiest part. We made a trip to the Payroll Section the same day as the email about delays. Payroll advised that they were processing all FLSA overtime as per usual and that no FLSA overtime would go unpaid or would be delayed. I spoke with Chief Noel who confirmed that was the plan.

New Orleans Civil Service Rule IV Sec. 11.1 states that if the Mayor declares a state of emergency and requests only essential employees come to work, then those essential employees are paid 1.5x the employee’s regular hourly rate for all hours worked.

Fortunately, the FOP has a good friend named Will Aitchison who is an expert in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as it relates to public safety labor issues. Will wrote a book on the topic which you can review by clicking here. It is good to be familiar with, but for the purposes of this article, I am going to try to focus on the issue at hand. I exchanged emails with Will, and while I didn’t learn anything new, it was somewhat reassuring that I didn’t learn anything new.

GETTING PAID

An employee gets paid for compensable time. There are three aspects to being paid correctly in these circumstances: 1) Is the time compensable?, 2) If it is compensable time, is it overtime?, and 3) in New Orleans, is it subject to Civil Service Rule IV Sec. 11.1?.

IS IT COMPENSABLE TIME (Time you get paid for)?

As you might imagine, some people believe that time spent merely thinking about work is compensable time,

“I sat in my recliner and thought about how these armed robberies we’re connected for hours. I should get paid for that.”

Whether time is compensable or not depends on how restrictive your employer’s requirements are regarding your free time. For example, no drinking allowed, in and of itself, is not a sufficient intrusion to make that time compensable. However, if you’re not allowed to drink, or sleep, or leave your residence, and you have to answer a work phone while wearing your uniform, that could be compensable time.

Issues we saw during Hurricane Barry revolved mainly around whether or not officers were allowed to go home. One problem we faced during Hurricane Katrina was when an officer was sent home at the end of a shift but unable to return the next day because of road conditions or other impediments. I was assigned to Traffic when Katrina hit. The Traffic Division spent the night of August 28-29, 2005 downtown at 650 Poydras St. That was the start of a long period of work for me. But, not everyone made out as well. The night after Katrina blew through New Orleans, there were flooded streets, but downtown was still largely passable. I parked my car on Poydras St. near Lasalle St. that night and the next day water was halfway up the wheels of my car. The next night, I found myself in the 100 block of St. Charles Ave. 8th District officers would just stroll over because they had been released from work, but there was nowhere to go.

Lesson learned: you might not be able to send everyone home when their shift was over.

For Hurricane Barry, some officers were told they had to sleep at the Convention Center. It was suggested to some officers that they should stay at the station (not required). As a result of different officers receiving different instructions and different types of instructions, the amount of compensable time could be different for two officers whose time and instructions appeared to be very similar

What it comes down to is that whether time is compensable is something that has to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

IS IT OVERTIME?

Once it is determined that time is compensable time, the question then turns to whether or not the time is straight time or overtime. The FLSA has different rules for different jobs. The rules for Firefighters or different than for police. In New Orleans, overtime is calculated using a 2-week pay period. So, any time exceeding 85.5 hours in a 2-week cycle is overtime. For non-exempt employees, overtime is calculated at 1.5x the hourly rate. For exempt employees, the overtime rate is calculated using the employee’s weekly rate of pay.

WHAT ABOUT CIVIL SERVICE RULE 4 SECTION 11.1?

The New Orleans Civil Service Commission has unique and exclusive jurisdiction over pay issues for employees of the City. This is only balanced by the power of the purse maintained by the legislature, or in this case, the City Council. Article X, Section 10 of the Louisiana Constitution states that any rules passed and implemented by the City Civil Service Commission have the force and effect of law.

New Orleans Civil Service Commission Rule IV Section 11.1 states:

Section 11. EMERGENCY RATE OF PAY
11.1 – If it becomes necessary for an employee (exempt and non-exempt) to work on any day when the Mayor of New Orleans has declared an official emergency and has requested that only essential employees report to work, the appointing authority should adjust the employee’s work schedule to allow another day(s) off during that work period as a substitution. If such a substitution is not possible, then, for working at such time, the employees shall be paid the following:

(a) All non-exempt employees shall be paid at a rate of one and one-half (1½) times
their normal rate for all hours worked.

(b) All exempt employees shall be paid at a rate of one and one-half (1½) times their
normal rate of pay. Normal rate of pay for exempt employees is defined as the
weekly salary.

(c) In situations where the emergency lasts for less than a normal seven-day work
week, then exempt employees shall be paid at a rate of one and one-half (1½) times
their normal hourly rate for all hours worked subject to the maximum allowed for a
regular scheduled workday in keeping with Rule I, Number 40. Under no
circumstances shall an exempt employee receive pay from this section that exceeds
more than one and one-half times his normal weekly salary for an emergency event.

In all cases, this pay is to remain in effect until the Mayor announces the state of
emergency has ended or an announcement is made that City offices are open for business and employees are to report to work, whichever comes first.

(d) When the Mayor of New Orleans has declared an official emergency on a day in
which city offices remain open for business, exempt and non-exempt essential
employees (except for highly compensated employees as defined by the FLSA)
who are assigned to perform emergency/disaster field operations duties may receive
five (5) percent over their normal rate of pay while engaged in such duties during a
declared state of emergency. In cases where the emergency declaration extends
beyond four (4) weeks, a request for extension and reasons therefore must be
submitted by the Chief Administrative Office or other executive authority to the
Civil Service Commission for approval along with an anticipated end date and a list
of the essential employees who will remain in the emergency assignment. (amended
September 25, 2017, adopted by the Council October 26, 2017)

Almost all employees accrued overtime during the response to Hurricane Barry. In addition, because Mayor Cantrell declared a state of emergency, all regular rates of pay are increased by 1.5x. The increase continued until the Mayor rescinded the emergency declaration or non-essential offices were reopened. Since regular rates of pay were increased by 1.5x as a result of the emergency declaration, once an officer exceeds 85.5 hours in a 2-week pay period, then the FLSA requires payment of overtime in a timely fashion. There are no provisions for delays for any reason.

 

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Tropical Storm Barry and the FLSA

UPDATE 3 (8/1/19) There is still some discussion of pay for time worked during the State of Emergency for Hurricane Barry. Here is my best interpretation of the circumstances as they exist today:

  • What time is compensable time (the time you are paid for) is determined by the application of the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).
  • Whether or not an officer gets paid for standby time is fact dependent and has to be examined on a case by case basis to determine if time is compensable time. What might be compensable time for one officer may not be compensable time for another officer.
  • Compensable time for a non-exempt employee must be paid and paid in a timely fashion. We have been told that FLSA payments are, in fact, being made in a timely fashion.
  • It is important to note that some employees are exempt employees. That is to say, they are not covered by the provisions of FLSA. So, just because the FLSA would indicate time was compensable for a non-exempt employee does not mean it is compensable time for an exempt employee.
  • There is also New Orleans Civil Service Rule IV, Section 11.1 which indicates that if the mayor declares an emergency and an employee has to work when everyone else has been sent home, then those employees who have to work should be given another day off during the pay cycle. If it is not possible to give the employee another day off, then all hours worked are paid at 1.5x. However, this is not an FLSA requirement.
  • The FOP Crescent City Lodge will be keeping an eye on the payments to make sure payments are made timely and correctly.

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VERY IMPORTANT – 1st Amendment Update

UPDATE (8/1/19) – I started off with warnings not to share your political ideas on Facebook or the like. My recommendation has changed. Do not post anything on Facebook, Twitter, or the like. There are no privacy settings that will protect you. Sometimes it takes it hitting home to really make the message clear. 2 Gretna Police Department officers fired for one Facebook post. However, these days, hitting home does not mean it only hits home. The story of the 2 Gretna officers fired for Facebook posts can also be found in the New York Times. One of the Gretna officers wrote a post. The other officer merely clicked “Like” on the post. Play around with the search bar on Facebook. It is much more powerful than you might imagine. Search Google for tips and tricks for the Facebook search bar.

Just don’t do it. If you want to share pictures of your newborn child with your relatives spread across the country, go ahead – use Facebook – you can’t beat it. However, if you have a joke, a meme, or anything like that, keep it to yourself. When is the last time you tried to convey humor or sarcasm in a text message and it failed completely? It is very difficult to convey emotion or feeling. The same is true with Facebook. To make matters worse, there are those who don’t understand that articles in The Onion are satire, or what satire is. There are people who really believe that the United States Postal Service would create a  commercial to brag about the number of fingers shipped by kidnappers. They are quite comical. You will find at least some of them amazing and amusing. However, what you wrote as a police officer can and will get you fired. Hitting a “Like” button is reported in the New York Times.

We post the FOP newsletter in the Crescent City Lodge Facebook Group. Anything wrong with reading that there? No. You probably cannot post in the Crescent City Lodge Facebook Group at all — well, not without approval. Why? It is for your own protection. There is no such thing as privacy on the Internet and nothing goes away. There are some things that are completely beyond your control. This is not one of those things. Educate yourself and protect yourself – click here.

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NOPD Accident Review Board Update

I guess this was coming ever since NOPD updated the disciplinary penalty matrix (Chapt. 26.2.1). First, let me take this opportunity to say that the old adage that you can’t help if you don’t get there is true. Secondly, and easily as important, wear your seatbelt. It may be uncomfortable or you may feel like it slows you down when exiting the vehicle, but there is no doubt that seatbelts save lives and it could be yours that gets saved. You could be exercising all of the care and diligence possible and still find yourself involved in an accident. You will be better off wearing your seatbelt. Finally, don’t leave loose items laying around that can interfere with your ability to drive. You should be thinking clipboards, shoulder mics, and the like.

All that being said, it used to be the case that everyone deemed to have been in an at-fault accident would eventually be summoned before the Accident Review Board. The vast majority of those people would get a Letter of Reprimand. Usually, one or two people would be deemed to not be at fault and one would get slammed, Those days are gone.

I attended the Accident Review Board today. What I learned is that for those minor, first-offense accidents, the driver was offered a negotiated settlement. If accepted, the negotiated settlement resulted in a letter of reprimand. If the officer did not accept the negotiated settlement, then the officer was ordered to attend the Accident Review Board (“ARB”).

At today’s ARB, two people were found to be not at fault. One was responding to a 108 and had the right-of-way, traveling at a reasonable speed. The other was also traveling at about the speed limit and bottomed out on a defective roadway. One person got a LOR because the damage was only to one rim. The remainder got at least a 1-day suspension for first offenses, a 5-day suspension for second offenses, and a 10-day suspension for third offenses.

What does this mean for you? If you are offered a negotiated settlement for an accident you know you were at fault in, you should probably take the negotiated settlement. An example might be a backing accident or striking a parked car. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to call me. I will help you make a determination of the best course of action. If you know the accident is a second or third offense, make sure to call and let me know about the ARB so you can keep the FOP’s Salary Reimbursement Option in play. Don’t assume someone else has already called.

As a reminder, the FOP’s Salary Reimbursement Option (“SRO”) will repay you for up to 5 suspension days at $150/day for cases you are not going to appeal. However, it is required that you be represented by an FOP attorney. If you don’t want to call me for some reason, call one of the others. Bur, it is not unusual for me to represent everyone who appears before the ARB like I did today. I spent my last 4 years on the job as Commander of Traffic Fatality Investigations. So, I have some experience with the subject matter.

As usual, the FOP is looking out for you. In addition, the FOP provides benefits which are unmatched by any other organization. 90% of active officers belong to the FOP. Take advantage of the benefits you pay for. If you are part of the 10% who don’t belong to the FOP, consider joining. The benefits are worth it. You may feel like you will never need them, but you never know, It is better to be prepared. Maybe you can be lucky enough to never need the legal services – maybe. However, everyone eventually makes use of the guaranteed death benefit. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone.

Donovan Livaccari

You Should Make a Last Will and Testament

Members of the Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police are entitled to 2 hours per year of legal services for whatever legal needs you may have as a benefit of membership. The legal needs do not have to be related to the performance of your duty in any way. In fact, legal issues resulting from the performance of your duty as a police officer are covered by other elements of the FOP Legal Defense Plan. I am recommending that you consider using those 2 hours to draft a last will and testament. I cannot speak for any other attorney who does FOP Legal Defense Plan work, but, assuming you don’t need complicated estate planning and a complicated last will and testament to accompany the complicated estate planning, I will take care of your last will and testament that doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket. I will even throw in a living will, if you want. If the information below makes your head spin or generally causes confusion, feel free to call for an explanation or with any questions. You can also skip to the last paragraph and I will do whatever I can to help.

If you die without a will in Louisiana then you have died intestate. In the event an individual dies intestate in Louisiana, then that person’s estate devolves by the laws of intestacy. What does that mean? That means that whatever property the deceased has at the time of death after the bills are paid, is distributed based on the Louisiana Civil Code articles setting the order of heirship.

An heir is someone who receives a share of an estate by law or judicial process. A legatee is someone who receives a share of an estate as a result of a bequest in a last will and testament. A beneficiary is someone who receives some benefit as a result of being designated the beneficiary during the lifetime of the decedent. Things with a beneficiary, such as insurance policies, pensions, 401k’s, etc., are not part of one’s estate and operate outside of a last will and testament or the laws of intestacy.

If someone dies without a will in Louisiana, the estate will go to descendants or ascendants in equal portions in the following order: 1) children; 2) siblings; 3) parents; 4) surviving spouse; 5) other ascendants; 6) other collateral relatives by degree. The surviving spouse is entitled to the surviving spouse’s share of the community property but does not become an heir of the decedent’s community property unless there are no children, siblings, or parents that are heirs first. As you can see, it gets a little complicated. It gets even more complicated when there are 1/2 siblings or if siblings predecease the decedent.

In addition to all that intestate confusion, we have to mention the civil law concept of usufruct. Let’s say, hypothetically, that Officer A dies intestate with 2 children and a surviving spouse. In this case, Officer A’s children each receive a 50% “naked ownership” interest in the estate and the surviving spouse would get usufruct for life. What the fruct?

There are three elements to ownership: 1) usus, 2) fructus, and 3) abusus. The usus is the use of the thing. The fructus is the fruits of the thing (for example rent from a rental property is the fruit of the rental property). The abusus is the right to destroy or dispose of the property. If one is a naked owner, then that person only has the abusus. The usufructuary (the person with the usufruct) has the usus and the fructus. Together, the naked owner and the usufructuary combine to have full ownership. Apart, neither has a right to sell or dispose of the property.

In Louisiana, we also have forced heirs. Forced heirs are any first line descendants who are 23-years-old or younger or first line descendants who are incapable of caring for themselves due to physical or mental infirmity, regardless of age. Forced heirs must receive a portion of the decedent’s estate unless the forced heir is disinherited. Please note this is a very brief, simple discussion of forced heirship. As you could imagine, it gets more complicated.

Unborn children are entitled to a portion of the estate, assuming they are conceived prior to the decedent’s death. Children of heirs can take based on representation. There is more. Intestacy can be easy at times and complicated others.

How does one avoid all that? By executing a last will and testament. In a last will and testament, one can specify who they would like to receive property in an estate. A last will and testament can’t override the laws on forced heirship, but otherwise, it gives one some control over how their estate is distributed after death. For the purposes of this post, I am going to leave it here. If you have questions, feel free to call me.

A living will is different from a last will and testament. A living will is a declaration of how you want to be handled if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. Again, I am happy to go over that with people individually if necessary.

I want to conclude by suggesting that every member of the Crescent City Lodge (NOPD employees) should take advantage of the opportunity to draft and execute a last will and testament. As I stated above, I can generally do that with no out of pocket expense for the FOP member. Call me and we can set up an appointment to discuss the matter further.

Louisiana Concealed Carry Laws for Law Enforcement

Depending on who you believe, either 10.98 million (University of New Orleans) or 17.74 million (City of New Orleans) people visited New Orleans in 2017, spending $7.51B or $8.7B (respectively) while they were here. I do not know how many of those individuals were law enforcement professionals, but in 2012, the FBI said there were about 700,000 sworn officers. If reality bears out the averages, then that means there were somewhere between 21,960 and 35,480 law enforcement officers who were part of those visitors to New Orleans.

In August 2019, there will be thousands of active and retired law enforcement officers in New Orleans for the FOP’s 64th Biennial Conference. While I have no idea how many of those law enforcement visitors will be armed and carrying concealed weapons during their visit, I can imagine there will be a few. Some of those visitors carrying a concealed weapon might be visiting local eating and/or drinking establishments. While there are lots of things New Orleans is known for, drinking and eating must be near the top of the list.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

For those of you who don’t want to read the reasons why, here is a summary of the law in Louisiana:

  • Law enforcement officers are not forbidden from carrying concealed weapons in bars and/or restaurants
  • Any active or retired law enforcement officer approached by the NOPD while visiting New Orleans should 1) comply with all requests; and 2) be prepared to produce identification compliant with the requirements of LEOSA.
  • Guns and alcohol don’t mix in New Orleans or any other jurisdiction. Play it smart. If you are going to be drinking, leave your weapon in the hotel safe.

If you are interested in the “why,” feel free to keep reading.

La. R.S. 14:95.5 says that nobody is allowed to intentionally possess a firearm while on the premises of an alcohol beverage outlet. It goes on to define an alcoholic beverage outlet (ABO) as any business which sells alcohol in individual servings that are intended to be consumed on the premises, without regard for how much of the business’s revenues are derived from the sale of alcohol. As you might imagine, there are exceptions – exceptions which should not be conflated. In addition to the exceptions found in La. R.S. 14:95.5, there is also a federal law which likely preempts the state law, at least as it applies to the FOP members visiting in August, or the thousands of law enforcement officers who visit New Orleans every year.

La. R.S. 14:95.5(C)(1) says that the provisions of La. R.S. 14:95.5 do not apply to the owner or lessee of an ABO, an employee of the owner or lessee of an ABO, or to a law enforcement officer, or to a law enforcement officer or other person vested with law enforcement authority or listed in R.S. 14:95(G) or (H). La. R.S. 14:95.5(C)(2) says that someone with a concealed handgun permit can carry pursuant to 40:1379.1 or 40:1379.3 if the ABO has a Class A restaurant permit.

I am not aware of any definition of law enforcement officer in Louisiana statutes. La. R.S. 40:2402 defines “Peace Officer” in terms of Louisiana POST and is often cited as a starting point for defining “law enforcement officer.” However, that is not what the statute says.

La. R.S. 14:95(G) provides exemptions to La. R.S. 14:95, Illegal Carrying of Weapons (except La. R.S. 14:95(4) which I will touch on at the end) for Sheriffs, their deputies, state and city police officers, etc. in the course of their duties. It also provides an exemption for Sheriffs, their deputies, state and city police officers, as long as they are POST certified. It exempts retired law enforcement with at least 12 years and annual qualification with the appropriate id and reserve or auxiliary police officers as long as they have the appropriate identification and qualify annually with the POST firearms course.

La. R.S. 14:95(H) provides exemptions for justices, judges, and other members of the judicial or legislative branches of government as long as they have the proper identification and qualify annually with the POST firearms course.

All that is pretty complicated when La. R.S. 14:95.5(C)(1) simply exempts law enforcement officers. Furthermore, unlike the exemptions found in La. R.S. 14:95, the exemptions in La. R.S. 14:95.5(C)(1) do not require qualification on a POST course (other jurisdictions don’t necessarily have a POST Council – although other jurisdictions do have some variation of POST).

As it relates to those with concealed handgun permits, the statutory limitations are listed in La. R.S. 40:1379.3. These, however, do not apply to law enforcement officers.

La. R.S. 14:1379.1.3 provides that law enforcement officers can, generally speaking, carry a concealed weapon anywhere in Louisiana, including anywhere open to the public, given certain conditions. This statute was modeled after LEOSA, which is described below.

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) is a United States federal law, enacted in 2004, that allows two classes of persons – the “qualified Law Enforcement officer” and the “qualified retired or separated Law Enforcement officer” – to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States or United States Territories, regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions. (https://leosaonline.com/) This law is sometimes referred to as H.R. 218 after the bill introduced before its passage.

(c) As used in this section, the term “qualified law enforcement officer” means an employee of a governmental agency who—

(1) is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under section 807(b) of title 10, United States Code (article 7(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice);

(2) is authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;

(3) is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency which could result in suspension or loss of police powers;

(4) meets standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;

(5) is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and

(6) is not prohibited by Federal law from receiving a firearm.

(d) The identification required by this subsection is the photographic identification issued by the governmental agency for which the individual is employed that identifies the employee as a police officer or law enforcement officer of the agency.

(e) As used in this section, the term “firearm”—

(1) except as provided in this subsection, has the same meaning as in section 921 of this title;

(2) includes ammunition not expressly prohibited by Federal law or subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act; and

(3) does not include—

(A) any machinegun (as defined in section 5845 of the National Firearms Act);

(B) any firearm silencer (as defined in section 921 of this title); and

(C) any destructive device (as defined in section 921 of this title).

(f) For the purposes of this section, a law enforcement officer of the Amtrak Police Department, a law enforcement officer of the Federal Reserve, or a law enforcement or police officer of the executive branch of the Federal Government qualifies as an employee of a governmental agency who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of, or the incarceration of any person for, any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under section 807(b) of title 10, United States Code (article 7(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice).

CONCLUSION

Preemption is the doctrine which basically stands for the proposition that based on the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) federal law preempts state and local law when they attempt to govern the same topic. In this case, LEOSA, a federal law, states that certain law enforcement officers, active and retired, can carry concealed firearms anywhere in the United States except that it recognizes a state’s right to pass legislation allowing private persons to restrict firearms possession on their property or to restrict possession of firearms in government buildings or installations. Finally, LEOSA does not override the Gun-Free School Zone Act.

I defended a law enforcement officer from Mississippi who had been arrested in a bar in the French Quarter for carrying a concealed handgun. Ultimately, the District Attorney’s Office reached the same conclusion as I did considering the above and refused the charges. The officers who made the arrest in that case confused the laws on concealed handgun permits with the laws governing law enforcement officers. The officer who was arrested realized he had made a mistake by carrying a concealed firearm in a bar because guns and alcohol don’t mix.

REAL MESSAGE TO TAKE AWAY WITH REGARD TO GUNS AND ABO’S

Guns and alcohol do not mix. LEOSA and Louisiana Law both exempt intoxicated persons from the protection of the law, and for good reason. Actually, the legislation uses the language “under the influence of. . .” What does that mean? I have seen that language interpreted to mean “the presence of any alcohol at all – even the slightest bit.”

On behalf of the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police and the FOP Crescent City Lodge, we are looking forward to the thousands of FOP members who will be coming to visit in August. We do want everyone to enjoy themselves. Furthermore, poor decision making is probably forgivable. However, if someone ends up hurt or dead because of the mixture of guns and alcohol, or drinking and driving, the law is not going to be quite so forgiving.

Do you want to be in the movies?

I received an email from Central Casting Louisiana. The test of the email is below. Anyone who is interested (and available) can email Hunt@CentralCasting.com.

Central Casting Louisiana is seeking military/police types!

We are a background casting company that has been in business for over 90 years. We have worked on such projects as Jurassic World, LBJ, LoganDeepwater HorizonThe Magnificent Seven, MTV’s Scream, and Cloak and Dagger.

Filming is will soon begin the feature – The Hunt.

This horror/thriller film is set in Eastern Europe, but will film in New Orleans through April. We are in need of military or police types to work as the featured military border agents at a refugee camp.

We are reaching out to you and your organization for submissions!

Work Dates: Thursday 2/21, Friday 2/22, Friday 3/22, AND Monday 3/25

Please feel free to share this email with your friends or anyone who may be interested!

To submit, please email to Hunt@CentralCasting.comfull namecurrent photo(s)military or police experience, and phone number.

If you would like additional information about Central Casting, please call us at 504-684-2550 ext 1 between 9 AM – 6 PM, CST. We thank you for any help that you may be able to provide.

Please click the links below to follow us on social media!

26-23 – The Super Bowl Gets Much Less Interesting

It is hard to describe the feeling in New Orleans that existed the evening of January 20, 2019. There was little to no interest in the AFC Championship between the Pats and the Chiefs because the Saints has just been screwed out of a trip to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII. This will be bad for the NFL.

After the heart-breaking loss to the Rams, Saints fans everywhere struggled with how that game turned out. Saints fans are used to losing games. It isn’t that. I fought the urge to say we were cheated. Cam Jordon tried to do the same thing – trying to focus on other opportunities that had been missed during the game.

There was a dropped catch in the back on the end zone that ended up leading to a field goal. There was the first and ten pass play that preceded “the missed call” where Drew Brees, our Hall of Fame football savior, threw the ball at the receivers feet for some inexplicable reason. Why did we pass the ball anyway? If we had just given it to Ingram or Kamara, or even Taysom Hill, the Rams would have been forced to use their last time out and the clock would have kept on ticking after that.

But, those are the things you see with 20/20 hindsight. Yep, the 4 point difference between the dropped pass and the field goal may have changed the ending also. However, that simply wasn’t the case. It didn’t happen that way. The Saints drove down to the red zone and, on third and ten, Drew Brees threw a pass to Tommylee Lewis. Nickell Robey-Coleman, the Rams’ DB recognized the situation for what it was. Lewis was open a few short feet from the goal line, Brees saw it, threw the ball, and Lewis was going to catch it and score a touchdown, making it much more difficult to send the game into overtime. Or, what is even more likely, Lewis would have been pushed out of bounds, having gained a first down, leaving the Saints in a game winning position. Robey-Coleman did what we have seen defensive backs do in that situation for years. It is better to take the penalty than to give up the score.

As Robey-Coleman admitted in post game interviews, he knew he was early when he hit Tommylee Lewis. He knew had hadn’t turned around to try to find the ball. He knew he hadn’t made any effort to make a play on the ball. He intended to interfere with Lewis’ ability to catch the ball. He said that he fully expected to see yellow flags flying. So did everyone else in the Superdome. So did everyone else watching television in New Orleans. So did everyone in Las Angeles. So did everyone everywhere except the guys in black and white stripes shirts on the field. Robey-Coleman said a ref told him the ball had been tipped. That’s the only way the pass interference would have been justified. It wouldn’t have justified the helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver, but it would have justified the PI. Tipped balls are reviewable, right?

Anyway, we know how it turned out. Nobody threw a flag on an egregious foul. I don’t have any problem with letting the players play. That’s one of the justifications I have heard since Sunday. The refs had been letting the players play. Fine. This wasn’t one of those situations. It was a clear pass interference by one player on another. It wasn’t two players hand fighting down the field or jostling for position. Even worse, letting the players play doesn’t justify not calling the helmet-to-helmet contact when that has been a safety focus of the NFL all year long. There is a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers who did everything but put a pillow under the QB’s head on a sack that resulted in a roughing the passer call. There was a roughing the passer call in the Pats/Chiefs game where the defensive player hit Brady in the chest, missing the helmet all together. There is simply no justification for missing that call when Robey-Coleman hit Tommylee Lewis early, helmet to helmet.

The facts that there were other missed opportunities and questionable calls by Sean Payton during the game are irrelevant. There are always missed opportunities and questionable calls in every game. The situation that existed in that now infamous third and ten existed independently of any other missed opportunity or questionable call. The refs blew it bad. If the Saints get that call, it becomes first and ten. The Saints can run the clock down to a point where the ensuing field goal would have sealed the deal, cementing the Saints’ trip to Super Bowl LIII.

Now, Super Bowl LIII will be the Patriots versus Rams. I couldn’t be any less interested in that game. We are well aware that Brady is the GOAT. As much as I love Brees and appreciate everything he has done for Saints Football, the City of New Orleans, for ME, TB12 didn’t throw an interception to a defender lying on his back in overtime to lose the game. TB12 drove down the field and scored a touchdown, keeping Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field. The Pats didn’t give up a single negative yardage play in the AFC Championship. Say what you want, that is hard to argue with.

Now, leading up to Super Bowl LIII, the media coverage is about the blown call in the Saints game and the good work done by the Patriots’ offensive line. BORRRRING! We won’t get to enjoy Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Taysom Hill, Cam Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, and on and on and on. We also won’t get to enjoy Pat Mahomes and the future of the NFL. We will have a Super Bowl between a team that should have lost the NFC Championship and Belichick and Brady. I just don’t care and my gut says that there are plenty other people outside of Boston who don’t care either. I’m not saying the Patriots don’t deserve to be in the game. Clearly they do. I just don’t care who wins – like Brady needs another ring.

I know I am not a sports writer and this article is way outside of my normal writing topics. I am, however, a lifelong resident of New Orleans. And as a lifelong resident of New Orleans, I am a lifelong fan of the New Orleans Saints. That won’t change. Next season, I will be ready to yell “Who Dat!” with fellow Saints fans, whether they are from New Orleans or not. I will be ready to yell “Who Dat!” when Brees retires and Taysom Hill takes over.

I do think Super Bowl LIII is the worst case scenario for the NFL. Whether you like the Saints or not, there is simply no denying they should have beat the Rams in the NFC Championship. I guess the football fans who love offensive line play the most will be excited about the Patriots winning another one. I did like Todd Gurly’s Instagram post of him trading jerseys with the ref, but the refs won’t be rooting against Brady on February 3. My conclusion is f ’em. I doubt I will watch LIII. I certainly won’t forget about this no call that cost us a trip to the Super Bowl. Finally, I don’t blame anyone for feeling that way (except the NFL officiating crew from the 2019 NFC Championship game).

Thanks tor letting me vent. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.

Edit: I have seen a number of comments that the refs didn’t call a face mask on Goff at the 5, or there were other no calls throughout the game. I admit that. The difference is that we don’t know what impact, if any, calling that face mask would have had. We know with a great deal of certainty that had pass interference been called on the third and ten pass attempt to Tommylee Lewis, the Saints would have won the game.

UPDATE 2/4/19 – I was right. SB LIII was a dud. Anyone who thinks the game wouldn’t have been better with Saints v. Chiefs is delusional. Who dat!

Apps for Saving, Investment, and Retirement

As a former police officer and an attorney who regularly represents police officers and other public servants, I have a good idea of what financial life is like for police officers and other public servants. It can be tough. It often means that police officers work a combination of overtime and off-duty details that would make working two jobs seem inviting. Add a family and that challenge just gets more difficult.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that police need a search warrant to look through someone’s smart phone. Why? Because, these days, we have the most intimate details of our lives stored on our phones — the type of information that should be protected. Some of that information is financial information.

I have made a few posts of Facebook and Twitter, but it is a little disjointed and hard to make sense of in that format. So, I thought I would put it here, together. I am going to share my experience with 3 apps: Acorns, Robin Hood, and Stash. A little disclaimer — I do use these 3 apps and clicking on the links I provide will give me and the clicker (you) a $5 bonus for signing up. While I did not write this to hustle $5 bonuses, who would turn down a free $5? The point is that the $5 is not my motivation.

Acorns

Acorns takes a unique approach to saving and investing. When you set up Acorns, you tell the app what level of risk you are willing to undertake. For example, you can set up the investments as conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, or aggressive. Acorns invests your money in one of five funds that invest in things that fit the appropriate risk profile. You link your bank account and/or credit card accounts to Acorns. As you spend money, Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar. When the rounded up change reaches $5, it transfers the money to your Acorns account and invests it in the appropriate fund. It essentially invests yours spare change for you.

You can also tell Acorns you want to invest a lump sum each month in addition to the spare change it invests it on a regular basis. Finally, you can ask Acorns to transfer funds as needed. You can withdraw funds from Acorns pretty easily using the app. It takes 3-5 business days before you see the funds appear in your account, but the funds do appear in your account.

You can also open a debit account and a retirement account with Acorns. The money grows without having to pay any attention to it. I transfer my spare change and $100 extra per month set at moderately aggressive and my account has returned 1.88%. So, not the greatest return, but it is certainly better than any savings account.

The fee is $1/month or .002% for balances over $10,000.

Acorns is intended to be used through an app on your phone, but you can access your account through the Acorns website.

Click here to download Acorns.

Stash

Stash may be my favorite. Stash is a cross somewhere between Acorns (it does not invest spare change like Acorns) and Robin Hood (which will be next, but is more like traditional investing). Stash links to your bank account and you can set an “auto-stash” or you can manually transfer funds to invest. Once you transfer the funds you have to choose your own investment vehicles.

Stash has a number of funds that are organized by the types of companies the funds invest in. The funds are categorized into “I Believe,” “I Want,” and “I Like.” The categories are supposed to represent things you might believe in, want, or like. For example, one of the funds in I Believe is called Clean & Green and invests in companies that use or produce clean energy sources such as wind and solar. Another is Defending America which invests in America’s military suppliers. Women Who Lead invests in companies lead in the area of gender equality. I’m not sure what the I Want category is supposed to be. I mean, I could guess, but I don’t know that I would be right. It has a fund called Corporate Cannabis. I am sure you can guess what that is about. There are also funds that describe the risk level – Aggressive Mix, Conservative Mix, Long-Term Mix, etc. The funds in I Like are things you might be interested in, I guess. They have names such as American Innovators (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.), BLOK (companies working on the block chain), and On Cloud Nine (companies developing cloud computing). Finally, there are a selection of companies you can invest in directly.

The list of companies you can invest in directly include such companies as Alphabet (Google), Amazon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Facebook, Netflix, and others. The beauty of this is that you can invest however much you would like. For example, if you were to buy Amazon (AMZN) from your stock broker, each share would cost you more than $1,500 ($1,691 as I write this). Alphabet (Google – GOOGL) is $1,092.18 per share as I write this. With Stash, you can invest $50.00 in Amazon and own approximately .003 shares. Now, you won’t be controlling the voting at Board meetings, but if 1 share of Amazon goes up by 5%, 1000 shares go up by 5% and .003 shares goes up by 5%. If your goal is a hostile takeover of Mr. Bezo’s empire, you should choose another vehicle. If your goal is similar to mine — saving some money that earns more than what savings accounts are paying in interest — then this may be a good option for you. I think Amazon is a good investment. Amazon is into everything these days and the companies it does not own have to use Amazon services to make money. It would cost me $169,100 to buy 100 shares and I don’t have that sitting around ready to invest. I can, however, find $50 to invest in Amazon. You could tell Stash to invest $5/week in Amazon. Or you tell Stash to invest $5/week in Amazon and $15/week in the fund composed of companies picked by IBM’s Watson.

One of the things I really like about Stash is that it allows you to open custodial accounts for your minor children. The custodial accounts work just like the main accounts. Stash also has a debit account and a retirement account option available.

The fee is $1/month or .002% if your balance is over $10,000 — the same as Acorns.

You can download Stash here.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood is more like a traditional investment account. You buy shares of companies at the prices everyone else buys shares of stock. If you had $169,100 in your Robin Hood account, you could buy 100 shares of AMZN. There is not a limited number of companies. You can also buy and sell options and Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

There are no fees (account fees or trading fees) associated with Robin Hood unless you borrow money from them using Robin Hood Gold (margin trading). The company also earns interest on the un-invested cash in your account.

You can download Robin Hood here.

I hope this information is helpful to everyone who reads this. It is important to take a minute to plan for the future. If it is fun, you may be more likely to do it. So, do your research. There are other articles on these apps. There is another called Betterment which I don’t have any experience with. However, there are numerous articles online that compare and contrast Acorns, Stash, Robin Hood, and Betterment. Maybe we can both get $5 out of the deal.

A look back at 2018

For the last few years, I have tried to give a short tally of my FOP Legal Defense Plan activities. I think where I have fallen short in the past is that my short tallies haven’t been very short. So, this time is going to be different.

If you are in law enforcement, you should be in the FOP Legal Defense Plan. If you work for NOPD, that means you should be a member of Crescent City Lodge #2. If you work for another agency, then you should belong to your local lodge. If you don’t have a local lodge, you might be able to join Lodge 100 or another lodge in your area. You may also be able to start a new lodge. The point is that in 2019, the FOP Legal Plan is as important to a law enforcement officer as what tools are on his duty belt. Police officers should never go to work without wearing a bullet proof vest. Likewise, police officers should never go to work without the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan protecting them also.

In New Orleans, I believe things related to disciplinary investigations have begun to level off. I think the total number of DI-1 investigations or formal disciplinary investigations is probably close to the total for 2017. My stats are pretty close to 2017 also.

413

413 is the number of individual law enforcement officers I provided some type of legal service. Most of those 413 law enforcement officers were active members of the New Orleans Police Department. Some, however, were from other departments in southeast Louisiana. A few of those 413 law enforcement officers were retirees. Most were administrative disciplinary actions. Some were criminal investigations. Some were civil issues, workers compensation issues, issues with pay, or other issues associated with their employment.

248

I accompanied officers to 248 interviews in connection with formal disciplinary investigations. This includes statements at NOPD PIB, district stations, and at other agencies.

98

I attended 98 disciplinary hearings with FOP members. This includes Commander’s hearings, Bureau Chief hearings, Pre-Disposition Conferences, and any other hearings that resulted from a sustained charge in a disciplinary investigation.

110

I have 110 New Orleans Civil Service extension request hearings in my records. That is almost certainly very low. Sometimes it is better to lay low at extension hearings.

25

I accompanied 25 FOP members to an Accident Review Board hearing.

14

I represented FOP members in 14 Civil Service appeal hearings.

.500

In 2018, the Civil Service Commission released 6 decisions in cases I took to a hearing before the hearing officer. In 3 of those decisions, the Civil Service Commission granted the appeal, at least in part. In addition, at least 7 appeals were settled before the hearing. 2018 also included a decision in the protests of 3 police sergeants which I would consider a win. Counting that, my average would go up to .667. In 2017, there were 10 decisions in cases I took to hearing before the hearing officer. In 6 of those 10 cases, the appeal was granted, at least in-part. I recall when I first started handling these types of cases, the Louisiana State Civil Service used to keep detailed records on appeals. 8% of employees were successful in their appeals. I am confident my 50% – 60% win percentage is much better than average. Published Civil Service decisions can be found here.

75

I was able to notarize 75 documents for FOP members over the course of 2018.

18

The FOP provides each one of its members 2 hours of legal services for whatever the FOP member may need. I was able to do that for FOP members on 18 occasions in 2018. Sometimes that means drawing up and executing a Last Will and Testament or a Living Will. Sometimes those two hours are put toward something else, like a succession. One way or another, I try to get as much done within the 2 hours as possible.

So, that’s my review of 2018. I will leave everyone with one story from early 2019 before I hit publish.

Very early in 2019, I got a call from an officer about an officer involved shooting. The officer who called said that he wasn’t involved, but two other officers were and he gave me the location. I started in the direction of the scene and I was notified that there were three officers involved. Eventually that turned into four officers and one officer was in the hospital. The officer at the hospital was not injured badly thanks to his body armor which functioned as expected. Once I was on the scene and had spoken to the third officer, i learned that there were a total of 5 officers involved.

Now, this incident is not going to turn into any major production. It is a pretty straight-forward officer involved shooting and it was recorded from start to finish on four different cameras in high-definition. However, had it been a more controversial OIS, I am sure you could imagine what the legal costs would have been for five (5) officers. Fortunately, these officers all would have been protected by the FOP Legal Defense Plan if they would have really needed it.

It turns out the 5th officer on the scene of this OIS had recently graduated from the Academy and was in field training. I walked over to talk to him with a member of the FIT team. The FIT sergeant introduced himself and then went to introduce me and the officer in training said “Let me guess – my FOP attorney.” Sure enough. After we talked about public safety statements and what to expect, I asked this officer if he had my phone number. He kind of laughed to himself and said that I had been in his class recently at the Academy recently and I had told everyone to keep my number. He related to me that he had sat there thinking that he would never need it and did not put my number in his phone.

Put mt number in your phone. Who knows when you will need it? You can use it whenever you want. It might be something stupid. It might be something critical. It doesn’t matter to me or the FOP.