Impacting Legislation on Police Reform in Louisiana

Efforts at “Police Reform” have been ongoing every since the unfortunate death of George Floyd. Those reform efforts seem to have been focused on qualified immunity, but have ventured into other areas as well. Click here for more information particular to reform efforts in Louisiana. The Fraternal Order of Police has not shied away from the challenge. These reformers’ efforts appear to focus on being able to punish individual officers instead of making change where it matters.

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division often finds itself tasked with entering into consent decrees with local police department in order to disrupt an alleged pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing. In order to do so, the consent decrees entered in federal court seek to ensure the rules and regulations lay out a structure that leads to constitutional policing. The consent decrees do NOT regulate the behavior of individual police officers. The consent decrees seek to regulate the administration of the department as opposed to regulating individual officers.

The fact is that, while there are always exceptions to the rule, police officers are doing exactly what is expected of them by their supervisors and leadership. If a police department’s administration says “don’t worry about the complaints” or “use stop and frisk on everyone,” it is no surprise when officers comply with those attitudes. The attitudes and behaviors are a direct result of the instructions and directives from the top down. When officers engage in behaviors the community does not support, it is almost certainly the result of directives and attitudes from their superiors — all the way up to elected officials.

Unfortunately, these “reform” efforts have focused on the individual officers instead of the elected officials and police administrators. Reform efforts have sought to make it easier to punish individual officers instead of making any real change.

YOU MUST JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST THESE BILLS BECOMING LAW

By using Voter Voice, you can easily send emails to the appropriate legislators letting them know how you feel. If we want to see a law enforcement profession that will continue into the future, we cannot lose qualified immunity. Who would take a job that could result in that person losing everything they own because they made an honest mistake? What if that honest mistake led not only to the individual who took a job as a law enforcement officer, but that individual’s whole family? If you had to worry about losing the college savings when you had for your children when working in a certain profession, would you take that job in that profession? If you did take a job in that profession, I would question whether you should have passed the psychological exams during the application process.

Click here to go to the Louisiana FOP Voter Voice. You can either use pre-fabricated emails or modify the email to suit your own feelings. Emails are the most common method when constituents contact their legislators. The FOP, as an organization, has fought for you, our members, every day. The FOP has engaged in dialogues with legislators who are pro-police and those who were anti-police. The FOP has been working with a lobbyist in Baton Rouge for years now. Louisiana FOP President Darrell Basco had a seat on the Police Reform Committee and was able to represent the rank and file police officers. I testified before the Civil Law Committee at the Louisiana Capitol regarding qualified immunity. I also testified before the Police Reform Committee on behalf of our members regarding the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights.

Of immediate interest, HB 609 seeks to deny officers the benefit of qualified immunity. The potential loss of qualified immunity may be the single biggest threat to the law enforcement profession. It is also the best example of how these “reforms” target individual police officers.

Police officers in Louisiana have to step up and let their elected officials know they oppose HB 609. Police officers in Louisiana should also encourage their friends and family in Louisiana to do the same and let their elected officials know they oppose HB609. You can click here to go to Voter Voice above to do so easily.

However, none of this will mean anything without your individual efforts. Also, these are complicated issues requiring negotiations that may not seem normal. Please do not rush to judgment. Rest assured that the FOP is always doing its best for its members.

Please click here to familiarize yourself with the issues facing Louisiana Law Enforcement.

Please click here to access the Louisiana FOP Voter Voice to let your elected officials know how you feel about pending legislation.

NOPD Update 4/6/21

The following went out via NOPDALL on April 6, 2021:

——-

Subject: NOPD Short Forms 

Members of the Department,

IAPro is now able to generate NOPD Short Forms. Attached is a “Request for Public Integrity Bureau Short Form” (NOPD Form 355), please complete the form in its entirety and send a scanned copy to pibshortforms@nola.gov. The request will be completed within 48 hours after receiving the emailed request (excluding weekends and holidays).

*Any incomplete forms will delay the request.

Feel free to contact me with any question or concern.

Sincerely,

Sergeant Omar Garcia

Public Integrity Bureau

——-

Form 355 can be downloaded here.

I recommend checking you short form periodically to make sure you are aware of what it says and to make sure it is accurate. You certainly need to check your short form if you are considering leaving NOPD. The last thing you need is to inadvertently leave while “under investigation.” It happens more often than you imagine.

Call me if you have any questions about this or if you have any questions about your short form – sometimes they aren’t the easiest to interpret.

NOPD Sergeant List 3-18-21

The Civil Service list for Police Sergeant effective 3-18-2021 can be found by clicking here.

The previous NOPD Sergeant List expired on 2-28-2021.

This list will undergo the process detailed in CAO Policy Memorandum 143(R) which can be found by clicking here.

Police Reform Legislation

Legislators on the State and Federal levels clearly have qualified immunity in their crosshairs. Click here for info on Federal legislation from National FOP President Pat Yoes. There are other things the reformers are gunning for, but weakening qualified immunity for law enforcement officers seems to be a major goal. It is important to recognize that the “reforms” to qualified immunity will still apply to all other public officers as it has always been. In other words, the Legislators proposing and voting on this legislation will still be able to benefit from from qualified immunity, as will all other public officers exercising the discretionary functions of their office.

I would like to start by saying that Legislators are gunning for the wrong thing. Qualified immunity only relates to civil lawsuits alleging Constitutional violations. Qualified immunity does not apply to criminal matters.

In Louisiana, lawmakers have proposed that qualified immunity would not be available to law enforcement officers for any wrongful death or injury resulting from a use of force. In those cases, the trier of fact would have to decide if the use of force leading to the lawsuit was unreasonable. If the judge decides it is unreasonable, then the lawsuit would be allowed to continue.

Contrast that with the current way qualified immunity is applied. There is a two-prong test to determine if a public officer is entitled to qualified immunity: 1) Did the public officer’s actions actually constitute a violation of the plaintiff’s Constitutional rights? 2) Was the public officer on notice that his actions constituted a violation of someone’s Constitutional rights? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then qualified immunity does not apply. If the answer to either of those questions is no, then the lawsuit will be dismissed as to that public officer.

From the standpoint of law enforcement officers, the current application of qualified immunity serves to protect them from civil lawsuits in a profession that is dangerous and often leads to tense, rapidly evolving circumstances where the lives of law enforcement officers and civilians are in danger. A Tulane University Police Officer and Deputy Constable, Martinus Mitchum, was killed on February 26. 2021 when he intervened in a dispute over wearing a mask at a basketball game. Let that sink in. The shooter wanted to be allowed in the gym during a basketball game and was refused entry because he was not wearing a mask. When the interaction became contentious, Officer Mitchum stepped in to de-escalate the situation. In spite of Officer Mitchum’s efforts, the individual was so interested in not wearing a mask at the basketball game that he pulled a gun and shot and killed Officer Mitchum. It is a dangerous profession.

Other reform legislation includes bans in choke holds, bans on no-knock warrant service, and restrictions on the time of day warrants can be served. I don’t object to those efforts except to say that when someone’s life is in legitimate peril, all options should be on the table. Actually, this legislative efforts are much more reasonable than attacks on qualified immunity.

With regard to qualified immunity, I will point out that I am unaware of any insurance product that would provide liability insurance for law enforcement officers. Elimination of qualified immunity, even under restricted circumstances, would expose law enforcement officers to the same type of civil exposure that doctors are exposed to. As we all know, one reason we pay so much to see the doctor is because the doctor has to pay expensive insurance premiums. The problem is that I am unaware of any insurance product available to law enforcement officers and law enforcement salaries have historically been low.

Without qualified immunity, I think I would have to question the sanity of anyone choosing to work in law enforcement – at least a law enforcement agency without qualified immunity. In his monthly podcast, noted public safety attorney Will Aitchison said that taking a law enforcement job without qualified immunity should be the equivalent of failing the psych exam.

Legislators should be focusing on banning chokeholds. NOPD has banned chokeholds for years and it has had a good result. Changing qualified immunity will have unforeseen consequences that will damage law enforcement forever. Law enforcement officers are not the 1%. Law enforcement officers are blue collar workers who live next door to you. Their kids go to school with your kids. They are much more likely to be able to relate with you than with the 1%. In addition, law enforcement officers are not the ones setting policy within police departments. Those policies are being set and implemented by elected officials and people appointed by those elected officials. When the Dept. of Justice sought to implement a consent decree in New Orleans, the consent decree did not contain mandates for each individual police officer. The consent decree contains mandates for the administration. That is because the administration is responsible for how law enforcement officers perform their jobs.

I am not sure changing qualified immunity for law enforcement officers only will be Constitutional. We are entitled to equal treatment under the law. One way or another, legislators need to keep their eye on the ball and prop up law enforcement so that the profession can best serve their respective communities. Legislators should NOT be taking actions that will forever damage law enforcement as a profession.

All law enforcement officers and those individuals supporting law enforcement should contact their elected officials and let them know that you do not support elimination of qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in any way. Emails, letters, and/or phone calls can be used to serve that purpose. Don’t be shy. This is extremely important.

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Veterans

Southeast Louisiana VETERANS:
Starting today, Tier 1C is now eligible for vaccines at the New Orleans VA.
To get scheduled, call: 1-800-935-8387 x72819

Eligibility:
ANY AGE with any of the following conditions (per CDC recs):
Cancer
Chronic kidney disease
Lung disease (COPD, Emphysema, etc.)
Heart conditions (heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, etc.)
Obesity and Severe Obesity (BMI ≥30)
Sickle Cell Disease
Smoking
Type II Diabetes
Pregnancy

Patients of ANY AGE who are considered essential workers as defined by CDC (must bring proof of work):
Transportation and logistics
Food service
Shelter and housing (construction)
Finance
IT and Communication
Energy workers
Media workers
Legal workers
Public safety (engineers)
Water and wastewater workers

PLUS:
Existing Eligible Group
Veterans who are eligible to receive care with VA who are:
Age 65 or older

Any age in the following very high risk groups:
Dialysis
Chemotherapy
Homeless or congregate living
Long term care facility
Spinal Cord Injury (inpatient or outpatient)
Transplant

Any age who are considered frontline essential personnel as defined by CDC:
First responders (firefighters, police)
Healthcare workers
Education (teachers, support staff, daycare)
Agriculture and food processing workers
Manufacturing
Corrections workers
US Postal Service workers
Public transit workers
Grocery store workers

Louisiana Legislative Update

Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police Darrell Basco served on the Police Training, Screening, and De-Escalation Task Force. President Basco was the only person on the task force representing rank and file law enforcement officers in Louisiana — our members.

LAFOP President Darrell Basco addresses the task force membership on behalf of the more than 6,000 FOP law enforcement members in Louisiana.

This task force was created by Louisiana Legislators following George Floyd’s death in Minnesota. It is important to remember that these are only recommendations by the task force. The individual recommendations from the task force will have to be considered again to be made part of any legislation. The following was written by President Basco. The Louisiana FOP’s website can be found by clicking here.

The Police Training, Screening, and De-Escalation Task Force culminated on Thursday, January 14th. 

During the Extraordinary session of 2020, Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 passed the Legislature and created the Police Training, Screening, and De-Escalation Task Force.  The Task Force was composed of over 20 members, with the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police being the only rank-and-file police organization represented on the Task Force.

The Task Force was divided into Subcommittees to discuss issues and hear testimony from the public and subject matter experts about contemporary issues between the public and law enforcement.  Subcommittees were assigned specific issues such as Community Relations, Internal Operations, and Policy & Oversight.

Subcommittees reported their findings with recommendations to the full Task Force.

At the culmination, the full Task Force heard 22 recommendations and accepted all, but one of them.  All recommendations were amended from their original language to the language that will be filed in the 2021 Regular Legislative Session.

Please keep in mind that these are recommendations, that will translate into individual legislation introduced in the 2021 Legislative Session. All pieces of future legislation will be debated in committees and in both chambers proceeding through the regular legislative process.

Here is a brief overview of the recommendations.

Recommendation #1

Changes the time frame from 30 to 14 days that an officer has to get an attorney for representation during an internal investigation, unless the officer is incapacitated or in medical facility.

Recommendation #2

Initially drafted to require polygraphs on all internal investigation. Language was amended to a future study resolution by a joint committee of the House Committee on Judiciary and Senate Judiciary B.

Recommendation #3

Changed the 60 day requirement to complete an investigation to 75 days and to be inclusive of Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays.

Recommendation #4

Resolution urging the State Police Commission, which acts as the Civil Service system for commissioned employees of the Department of Public Safety, to adopt policies similar to those listed in the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights.

Recommendation #5

Recommendation was that an officer would be prohibited from viewing camera footage before being interviewed as part of an administrative investigation. This recommendation was voted to not be recommended by the Task Force.

Recommendation #6

Recommended that only sustained complaints will remain in an officers file for 10 years.

Recommendation #7

Included in the language for Recommendation # 12

Recommendation #8

Places a ban on choke holds under certain circumstances. They would be prohibited unless the officer is in fear of great bodily harm or death of themselves or another.

Recommendation #9

Adds language to Title 9 under immunity that states:

“No element of qualified immunity shall be available to law enforcement officers as a defense to liability for claims brought under state law for wrongful death, physical injury, or personal injury inflicted by law enforcement officers through any use of physical force in a manner determined by a finder of fact in a judicial proceeding to be unreasonable.”

Recommendation #10

Addition to the malfeasance statute:

“If the individual is a full-time or part-time or reserve peace officer, knowingly or with reckless disregard either refuses or fails to perform any duty lawfully required of him as a peace officer”

Recommendation #11

No knock warrants. Language to be added to the statute that follows best practices of executing no knock search warrants. Officers must have approval for no knock warrants from the judge that establishes probable cause that exigent circumstances, such as protecting life and limb. The officer must knock and use a clear announcement and be in uniform. The announcement must be reasonable that the occupants would have heard the announcement.

Recommendation #12

P.O.S.T. will implement a training program for all officers that include anti bias training with topics that include procedural justice, cultural diversity, community relations, and peer intervention.

Recommendation #13

That P.O.S.T. training curriculum implemented in Recommendation #12 will occur by January 1, 2022. Training developed will be in person or online.

Recommendation #14

If a police unit is equipped with a dash camera and the camera has the technology to be activated upon lights/siren activation then the agency shall utilize the technology.

Recommendation #15

No later than January 1, 2022 any agency with body worn cameras shall have a policy that outlines the activation and deactivation of the body worn camera.

Recommendation #16

Became Recommendation #21.

Recommendation #17

All government entities that employ peace officers shall develop a policy to recruit minority candidates.

Recommendation #18

Requires federally established Giglio reporting by agencies to prosecutors.

Recommendation #19

Pulled from consideration

Recommendation #20

Law enforcement agencies are required to provide P.O.S.T. within 45 days of employment status of law enforcement personnel. Failure to do so will result in a $500 fine.

Recommendation #21

Agencies will have to be certified and have at least 3 certified officers within their department to investigate an officer involved shooting. The certification and training will be developed by P.O.S.T..

Recommendation #22

Allows P.O.S.T. to develop and implement policies and procedures to suspend or revoke certification for misconduct.

As this progresses in the 2021 Legislative session the Louisiana FOP will keep the membership informed of updates/changes in the legislation.


Darrell B. Basco                  
LA FOP State President              

The Fraternal Order of Police is the Nation’s largest rank and file police organization with over 350,000 members, 6,000 in LA in 38 local lodges.

Tommy Tizzard

The following is reposted from the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police. The original article can be found here.

Funeral Arrangements: Tommy Tizzard 

The funeral services for Louisiana National Trustee Tommy Tizzard will be held on Friday, January 22nd at Garden of Memories Funeral Home, 4900 Airline Dr, Metairie, LA 70001. Visitation will begin at 10AM with a service to follow. Everyone must wear a mask and observe COVID-19 restrictions at the funeral home.

Tommy was a long-time member of the Louisiana Fraternal Police Executive Board and a 32 year veteran with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, where he retired from the rank of Lieutenant. Tommy also served on the Board of Directors of the Easter Seals of Louisiana, the New Orleans Police Emerald Society, and many more.

If you are traveling and need overnight accommodations we suggest the Hilton New Orleans Airport they are offering a rate of $71.00 plus tax (14.2%) for Thursday, January 22, 2021 – Saturday, January 24, 2021. They have shuttle service to and from the airport every 15 minutes.

To reserve a room at the $71.00 rate, guests must call 504-465-1159 and ask for Brandie 8:00am-5:00pm Monday –Friday. A credit card guarantee will be required for each reservation at the time of booking.

To know Tommy was to love him. He touched everyone’s life that he met.

Tommy was a supporter of Easter Seals in Louisiana, the Louisiana FOP’s charity of choice. Here is a link to make a direct donation to Easter Seals in Tommy’s name.

Tommy’s family has asked in lieu of flowers you can make a donation to the Louisiana FOP by clicking here.

Please keep Tommy and his wife, Nancy, in your prayers.

NOPD 2020/21 Unpaid Furlough Days

We appreciate Mayor Cantrell’s move to exclude public safety employees from the unpaid furlough days at the beginning of 2021. Hopefully, it will not be necessary to reinstitute unpaid furlough days as a result of COVID-19 (or anything else for that matter). However, there are always officers getting to retire after years and years of service.

For those officers who are preparing to retire, or who may have already submitted paperwork to begin the process of retirement, please be aware that the six (6) unpaid furlough days you have already taken do not count toward your retirement. If you are planning on retiring with 30 years and 0 days, you will be 6 days short. These unpair furlough days are treated like suspension days or LWOP days.

Make sure that you contact LaMPERS to get a correct accounting of creditable pension time before retiring. The pension folks can also be reached by telephone at (800) 443-4248 or (225) 929-7411.

FOP Legal Plan 2020

We visit every NOPD Academy class and explain to them, to the best of our ability subject to time restraints, why the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is not only necessary for today’s law enforcement professionals, but the best possible legal plan available. There are other legal plans that offer legal services, but none of those are specifically geared to law enforcement officers like the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is. Furthermore, I can give you all a run down of the legal services I provided to FOP members in Louisiana, but I cannot speak for anyone else. In addition, my practice involves representing police officers. That is it. 100% of my legal practice is representing FOP members.

Being able to devote my entire practice to representing FOP members is a benefit to FOP members for a number of reasons. First of all, I am generally available on short notice. If I am not available for some reason, I can get things rescheduled. Devoting my entire practice to representing FOP members also allows me to be, and remain, well-versed in issues facing today’s law enforcement professionals. I do not know any other attorneys in Louisiana who can say they only represent police officers.

In 2020, I represented more than 400 individual FOP members in the following capacitates:

Accident Review Board Hearings – 38
Civil Service Appeal Hearings – 8
Pre-Disciplinary Hearings/Pre-Disposition Conferences – 133
Civil Service Extension Request Hearings – 101
NOPD Rule IX Hearings – 10
Interviews/Statements – 184

I responded personally to 6 officer-involved shooting scenes and represented 20 police officers involved in officer-involved shootings in Louisiana, including interviews and statements with investigators. Most of these were in New Orleans, but there were several in other jurisdictions in southwest Louisiana.

2020 has been an odd year. I know I am not saying anything people do not already know. There were fewer appeals to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, I am currently awaiting decisions from the 4th Circuit on the emergency rate of pay and one Civil Service appeal where the appeal was granted in part and denied in part by the Civil Service Commission (I won 45 of 80 suspension days and had to appeal for the other 35).

The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is the only plan to offer the Salary Reimbursement Option. If you are represented by an FOP attorney and, after consulting with your FOP attorney you come to the conclusion that there is no point in appealing discipline, the FOP will pay the officer for up to 5 suspension days if they choose not to appeal. I assisted 27 NOPD officers with the Salary Reimbursement Option.

In New Orleans, the Crescent City Lodge provides members with free notary services. I provided notary services to 46 NOPD officers over the course of 2020. I also settled 16 Civil Service appeals with the City in lieu of proceeding with an appeal hearing. Those are 16 disciplinary actions rescinded or reduced for my clients.

I also had the opportunity to assist Louisiana FOP President Darrell Basco with his work on various committees in the Louisiana Legislature. I was called upon by the police reform committee to testify at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge about Louisiana’s Police Officer’s Bill of Rights.

Hopefully 2021 will look more like 2019 than 2020. One thing that is certain — The FOP Legal Defense Plan will be there for you when you need it. I will be there when you need me. I always have people tell me they don’t want to bother me with something minor or they don’t want to waste my time.

Nothing is a waste of my time. Nothing is unimportant. Don’t hesitate to call. It does not matter if you are an accused or a witness officer. You can call if you just have a question. I am here to help as much as I can. Furthermore, the FOP will be there for you.

Please note that my phone service now silences phone calls from numbers not in my contact book. I save phone numbers regularly. So, if we spoke on the phone previously, then I probably saved the number and that won’t be an issue. However, if you call and it goes to voicemail, please leave a message or send a text. I am not dodging anyone, but I can’t call anyone back if I don’t know who is calling.

I am looking forward to continuing to serve FOP members in 2021 and beyond. As I have said numerous times, I consider myself lucky to be able to be there for law enforcement officers and blessed to have the FOP Legal Defense Plan to use for that purpose.

Donovan Livaccari

It is always best to call me on my cell phone first.

LAMPERS Election

PLEASE SEE THE BELOW MESSAGE FROM TIGER FOLKS. If you are in one of the jurisdictions covered by Non-Chief District 2 (see the below message from Tiger), please vote for Tiger. We need people like Tiger representing the active members of the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System.

Brothers and Sisters,

Today I come to you as a candidate for the Non-Chief District 2 trustee seat on the Municipal Police Employees’ Retirement System (MPERS) Board. I have been in law enforcement for over 35 years and have the privilege of serving on the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police Executive Board for the last 10 years, currently as 2nd Vice President.  I have dedicated my life to law enforcement and will do the same for you as MPERS Board Member.  I will work diligently to protect your retirement and will make myself available to answer your questions. 

If you are an active member of District 2 MPERS you will receive a postcard on or about November 25, 2020, which will have a link and a QR Code, similar to the one in the photo. Please take a few minutes and cast your vote.

Thank you

 Sgt. James “Tiger” Folks

Franklinton Police Department

 2nd Vice President – Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police

President – Corbett W. Penton, Lodge #47

District 2 includes the municipalities in the following parishes Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Calcasieu, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Lafourche, Livingston, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermillion, Washington, and West Baton Rouge.