NOPD Accident Review Board

When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle for up to 8 or more hours a day, it is inevitable that, sooner or later, you will be involved in an automobile accident.  When you find yourself in an automobile accident driving a city vehicle, you can count on a few things.  You will have to notify your supervisor.  Car 17 will have to come take an accident report.  You will have to submit to an SAT4.  Your supervisor will have to complete a supervisor’s report of an accident.  The question is, will you have to go before the Accident Review Board as a result of the accident?

Reviewing accidents is a function of the NOPD’s Risk Management and Fleet Management efforts.  Car 17 reports are reviewed on a regular basis.  The initial determination made when reviewing an accident report is whether or not the officer is at fault in the accident.

If the officer is deemed not to be at fault in the accident, then Car 17 may be the last you hear about the accident unless you were injured and have a worker’s compensation or injured on duty claim.  If you are injured or think you may have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, you should contact one of the FOP attorneys about representation for the injuries sustained in the accident.  Your FOP attorneys can also advise and assist you with worker’s compensation or injured on duty claims.  If you are injured or think you may be injured, make sure your supervisor completes a First Report of Injury.

If you were at fault in the accident and you were injured, you should still make sure that your supervisor completes a First Report of Injury.  As long as you were acting in the course and scope of your employment, you will have worker’s compensation coverage regardless of your fault in the accident (with a few possible exceptions).

If you were at fault in the accident, your crash may be flagged for the Accident Review Board.  The Accident Review Board is a disciplinary hearing.  The Accident Review Board is normally composed of a Deputy Chief, the Commander of Traffic, the Commander of the Academy (or a Captain from the Academy), a District Commander, and another Commander from the Field Operations Bureau.

The Accident Review Board meets at irregular times, so it is difficult to predict when they might convene.  It is also difficult to predict how much time might elapse between your accident and when your accident will be before the Accident Review Board.  It usually takes several months to a year.

When you appear before the Accident Review Board, the Board will review the video of the crash, if any video exists.  If you were driving a car with a camera, chances are there will be video of the crash.  The video cameras are always recording and are triggered to save the recording upon impact.  Some minor impacts do not trigger the camera.

Generally, you will be given an opportunity to explain to the Board how the accident happened.  Keep in mind that by this time, there has been an accident report written, they have asked you to complete a voluntary statement about the accident, and your supervisor, who is also there at the Accident Review Board, has also written a Supervisor’s Report of an Accident.  You are ordered to participate in the Accident Review Board.  So, you do not have the option of remaining silent.  Therefore, any statements you make can not be used against you in a criminal proceeding, as directed by Garrity.  However, Garrity does not protect against actions in civil matters.  You should give a concise statement of the facts surrounding the accident.  You should include any mitigating factors that contributed to the accident.  You should also describe what police work or police action you were engaged in at the time, as well as how that police work or police action concluded, if you know.

Remember, if you are involved in an accident while engaged in a police action, you have an obligation to relay any pertinent information you may have to the dispatcher or other units involved and check on anyone who was potentially injured in the accident and secure emergency medical services if needed.  You should include this information in any statement to the Accident Review Board.

The FOP Legal Defense Plan will provide you with an attorney for the Accident Review Board.  Remember, members of Crescent City Lodge #2 must be represented by an FOP attorney to take advantage of the Salary Reimbursement Option (SRO).  You can either call an FOP attorney directly or you can contact Jim Gallagher (504-442-4050) if you are unsure of how to do that.

Accident Review Board penalties and appeals will be addressed in a subsequent posting.

Please be careful.  You can avoid the Accident Review Board by avoiding the accident.  Also, it may be a pain in the ass, but WEAR YOUR SEATBELT.

Blue Line Lawyer ®

It happens more often than not. A LEO is forced to use deadly force and the facts of the events leading to the shooting and the shooting itself clearly support a lawful, appropriate application of force. The criminal investigators interview witnesses who support the use of deadly force and the administrative investigation reveals no violation of departmental policy or state or federal law. This should not surprise anyone as LEOs in the United States are exposed to a tremendous number of training opportunities after they complete training academies. Judgmental use of deadly force classes and simulators as well as role play training leads to this result.

When I speak with and train LEOs, especially about the use of deadly force, I often hear this question, “Why would I need a lawyer if the use of deadly force was clearly justified?” This question strikes at the heart of the use of…

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FOP Legal Plan Primer

The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police provides its members with an outstanding legal plan.  The FOP Legal Plan provides an attorney to any member who is the subject of an administrative or criminal investigation.  It will also provide an attorney if you become the defendant in a civil law suit arising out of the course and scope of your employment.  But wait, there’s more. . .

Fraternal Order of Police

Fraternal Order of Police (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The FOP Legal Plan will also provide you with an attorney if you are a witness in an administrative or criminal investigation.  The FOP Legal Plan will provide you with an attorney if you become the subject of an administrative or criminal investigation because of an incident that occurred while you were off-duty.

The FOP Legal Plan will provide you with an attorney for any Civil Service appeals or other Civil Service matters.  If the matter warrants action beyond the Civil Service Commission, the FOP Legal Plan will provide an attorney for appeals through the court system.

The FOP Legal Plan provides complimentary notary services.  The FOP Legal Plan will pay for the first two hours of legal services for ANY personal legal matter.

Finally, the FOP Legal Plan will reimburse you for up to five suspension days if you choose not to appeal (you have to be represented by an FOP attorney to qualify).

These are benefits you pay for every other week by payroll deduction.  You should take advantage of these benefits.

**PLEASE NOTE that the above specifically relates to the FOP Legal Plan as administered by Crescent City Lodge #2.  Certain benefits, such as the two hours on any personal legal matter, are not available through the National Legal Plan and may not be available to members employed by agencies other than the New Orleans Police Department.  If you have any questions and are not employed by the New Orleans Police Department, please call me or the FOP Legal Plan at 1-800-341-6038.

What types of investigations should I call about?

Any type of investigation.

People frequently tell me that they did not call, or were not sure if they should call, because the investigation seemed minor.  It is as if somehow this minor investigation would be an imposition on the attorney.  Nonsense.  Wouldn’t you use your health insurance for the most minor appointment with your doctor?

In addition, you need to be represented by an FOP attorney in order to qualify for the Salary Reimbursement Option (SRO).  You don’t need to have “something to worry about” in order to call.

When should I call?

Immediately.  You should call as soon as you learn that you are either an accused or witness in an administrative or criminal investigation.

You should also call if you receive a letter from Civil Service about the department’s request for an extension of time.

Also, it is almost never too late to call.  Just because you didn’t have an attorney when you made a statement doesn’t mean you don’t get an attorney for the disciplinary hearing or the Civil Service appeal.

Finally, you should call if you have any question about an investigation or the process of conducting these investigations.

Who should I call?

If you know one of the FOP attorneys, you can call that person directly.  If you do not know who to call, you can call Jim Gallagher at 504-442-4050.  You can contact me directly by email, phone, or text.