The NOPD disciplinary system has been in a state of flux ever since the most recent change in administration. It continues to change today because of the looming consent decree as well as the development of the Independent Police Monitor program and other factors. The one thing that has not changed is the FOP Legal Defense Plan.
The Fraternal Order of Police, Crescent City Lodge guarantees its members a legal defense for administrative and criminal investigations originating from on-duty incidents and those off-duty incidents which are in the scope of employment. Coverage limited to $3000.00 in legal fees is also available for those off-duty administrative or criminal investigations originating from “out of scope” incidents. Civil defense is available as well, but coverage is a bit more complicated. If you have a question about civil coverage, call one of the FOP attorneys or Jim Gallagher and we will analyze your particular situation.
The Crescent City Lodge also offers two hours of legal services for any legal services that may be required. This can be used for anything, but it has been very useful in preparing wills, living wills, power of attorney, and other common legal documents. It can also be used to help defray the cost of more complicated legal issues such as successions, divorces, etc. The FOP also offers complimentary notary services to members of the Crescent City Lodge.
In addition, each of the FOP attorneys offers a full range of legal services. For example, Livaccari Villarrubia Lemmon, my firm, has been practicing personal injury law, first on the defense side and now on the plaintiff side, for over thirty years. We have represented numerous police officers in automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc., and would be more than happy to represent you if you need it. When you drive a car eight hours a day, it is inevitable that you will be involved in an accident. On-duty accidents are often challenging for people because worker’s comp issues and other things can get complicated. We can help with that. We will also be happy to extend similar courtesies to any of your family members if they need representation.
Your FOP attorneys have been involved with law enforcement and the FOP for a long time. I worked for the NOPD for 15 years before entering full-time practice, and have worked for FOP members since the day I passed the bar exam. Ray Burkart is a former NOPD officer as well. Claude Schlesinger is also a retired NOPD Lieutenant and Ted Alpaugh, who is partnered with Claude has been representing FOP members for years. Together, we can help with almost anything.
It is more important than ever to secure representation for NOPD disciplinary investigations. PIB has recently moved away from using the DI-3 to document complaints that do not have any merit. These investigations will be handled as DI-1 (formal disciplinary investigations) investigations. This is also a provision of the proposed consent decree. Undoubtedly the result will be an increased number of DI-1 investigations.
Recently, the NOPD made Police Officer II promotions. Out of the 315 people who applied, 208 were actually promoted. The 107 officers not promoted were passed over because of open disciplinary investigations or sustained violations within the last 12 months. A few we’re passed over because of undocumented sick leave. The FOP was able to assist a number of those officer who were passed over to become eligible for promotion and hopefully those officers will be promoted soon. Chief Serpas told me that he plans on making Police Officer III and Police Officer IV promotions next year. The money is in the budget for these promotions.
If you are going to have the time to be promoted to Police Officer III or Police Officer IV next year, it would be in your best interest to go to PIB and obtain a copy of your PIB Short Form occasionally to make sure you do not have any open or lingering investigation. It will also pay dividends to document any sick leave usage. You can document sick leave usage by bringing a Form 50 to your supervisor after returning from sick leave. In doing so, you will insure that sick leave does not interfere with details or promotions. You are allowed 8 undocumented sick leave instances in a calendar year. Best to document any sick leave usage if possible.
Call your FOP attorney if you are involved in an incident that you know is going to result in a complaint. Call your FOP attorney if you receive a Notice to Render Statement. Call your FOP attorney if you receive a letter from Civil Service. If you forget to call your FOP attorney right away, call later. Better late than never. Calling your FOP attorney will provide you with years of experience in disciplinary investigations, civil service appeals, and appeals to the a Fourth Circuit.
Your FOP attorneys can be contacted as follows:
Livaccari Villarrubia Lemmon LLC
Cell: 504-905-8280 (voice or text)
Ray Burkart, III
Burkart and Associates
Guste Barnett Schlesinger Henderson & Alpaugh
Guste Barnett Schlesinger Henderson & Alpaugh