More on Details

The following was recently received from an officer in the metro New Orleans area in response to our recent Letter to the Editor regarding the planned changes to the NOPD detail system.

I would like to invite and encourage anyone who would like to share their thoughts on police details to submit something to be published. It can be about these so-called “reforms” or it can be your personal experience working paid details with how the detail impacted the community we serve. It could also be about how working paid details has impacted your family.

I would also like to strongly encourage anyone who works details to ask their detail employer to contribute their personal experiences with paid details and how it effected their business or event.

I will be happy to give the author credit for the article or post it anonymously at the author’s direction. Furthermore, I will refrain from editing (except maybe spacing for readability). You are welcome to submit something even if you do not work for NOPD. Email me or call me about submitting something — Donovan Livaccari dlivaccari@gmail.com; dal@livlaw.com; 504-905-8280; or click Contact Me.

————–

Greedy officers working details?  I remember swearing an oath to protect and serve, to discharge the duties of my position fairly and impartially, to be fair and just in my dealings with the public.  I don’t recall swearing a vow of poverty.  Is it really greed to want to live in a decent home in a decent neighborhood?  Is it really greed to want to be able to provide a good education for your children?  Is it really greed to be willing to work some extra hours to save some money?  When, exactly, did it become greedy to want to have a savings account?  When did it become greedy for a police officer to want to have the same things that his friends and neighbors take for granted?

On another front, police officers working many of these off-duty details are the only time most of the public gets to talk to a police officer.  In New Orleans, the officers are so busy working through the backlog of calls and responding to those calls that are potentially life-taking that they have little to no time to actually speak to the folks they serve.  When you’re on a detail, whether it’s a neighborhood patrol, standing in a store, at a restaurant or wherever, there is not that sense of urgency.  Officers and citizens actually have the time to interact.  People who talk to police officers for any length of time quickly come to the realization that we are actually people, too.

Although I’m not with (nor have I ever been with) N.O.P.D., this is my 38th year as a full-time law enforcement officer.  It’s also my 36th year as a police officer who works these off-duty details to supplement my income.  I’ve finally reached the point where I can “bank” my detail money and afford things like decent vacations and taking the family out to eat on more occasions than ever before.  But I can also tell you that while working these off-duty details, I have come to meet and speak with many, many people who I never would have come into contact with.  We’re approachable and not in a rush to clear the call and move onto the next one; we have time to be those “community-oriented” police officers who can take the time to listen and suggest avenues they can take to resolve their problems.

I see the detail system has been labeled an “aorta of corruption.”  Is anyone out there really naive enough to think that moving it under the mayor’s office will make anything better?  Think about it…the N.O.P.D. is already under the mayor’s office and that hasn’t seemed to have worked out very well for many years now.

Yours truly,
A L.E.O. from another local agency.

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5 thoughts on “More on Details

  1. It seems wrong or corrupt to work a detail under the current system, but once the city takes over it will no longer be corrupt? We have a mayor who invited the DOJ, touting the fact that he had inherited one of the most corrupt police departments in the history of mankind. Were we more corrupt then Hitler’s, Castro’s, or perhaps Stalin’s personal hit squads? The fact of the matter is, the DOJ used their almighty power to bully and intimidate certain individuals into admitting wrong doing. Just as we saw with the River Birch case, the Feds have quite a few skeletons in their closet. They made recommendations to the department, that they choose not to follow. Now, the mayor is left with the bill, and he sees fit that we pay.

    I chose to work details that improve my quality of life. I choose to work on my off days and in my spare time, in order to provide a better life for my family. I have missed football games, tournaments, and quality time with my family in order to make a decent living. I knew that when I became a police office I was not signing an NFL contract, and I was fine with that. However, I see nothing wrong in being free to make extra money, without hurting anyone. I have never approached a business or a person and forced them to take a detail. Just as every officer has an opportunity, I proved to be loyal and reliable, and I receive calls to work details. I don’t coordinate details, nor have I ever been a part of an inner circle in order to receive details. I strongly believe that every officer has that chance, if willing to work, to find details. I understand that the reason details are around, is because of the uniform that we wear. I would be willing to give the city a reasonable rate for allowing me to work a detail, but I utterly reject the fact that they can dictate where I work, and how much they can take from me. This violates the spirit of what this country and our society is about. Every individual should have an opportunity to work hard and to be able to give their family a better life.

    It seems like several factors of the city government and state work for those entities, but are also allowed to practice their trade without restrictions. I have met several city attorneys, who have private practices. Judges whom work privately or consult for private firms. The private sector has several attorneys, whom consult for television stations. Doctors have private practices, in addition to teaching in universities. The Orleans Parish Coroner has several doctors who conduct autopsies for other parishes and are paid extra money on the side. If this is an acceptable practice for them and not considered corrupt, then why is working a detail any different. I don’t see the state, city, or private sectors restricting or trying to tax those employees, then why are we different?

    L.E.O.

  2. The difference that I see between NOPD or any other LEO working an off duty detail is that you are wearing your uniform and badge. You are acting in a manner that says NOPD is here, not Joe Citizen. I would venture to say that the vast majority of individuals hiring off duty details are paying for the uniform and badge to be there instead of a private security firm who will work for a lower rate. If an LEO wants to get a second job to bank extra money or to bump up there net worth, that’s fine. Go work for Brinks riding around doing cash drops. I can’t do side work while under the banner of my primary employer, why should LEOs or other city officials be allowed to do otherwise?

    • If the NOPD’s policy was that moonlighting was not allowed, then the situation would be different. NOPD is not unlike most agencies around the country that allow officers to work off-duty assignments. Generally, departments that do not allow off-duty details have pay rates more in line with national averages. The NOPD’s salaries are about $20,000/year below the national averages. Generally, people who apply for employment with the NOPD do so knowing what the salaries are and what they can earn to supplement that. What NOPD officers are not allowed to do is work for Brinks or any other security company that would create a conflict of interest. Furthermore, plain clothes security work is only allowed under circumstances approved in advance by the Superintendent of Police.

      • What is the average current rate for an off duty, uniformed detail? How much does the NOPD officer directing traffic outside the Superdome on game day earn currently? I’ve never hired an off duty LEO to perform a service for me or my firm. I’m trying to understand both sides of this situation and I currently only see the side of OPSE and the city. I absolutely want the men and women that protect me and my family to be taken care of financially. If that means taking secondary employment, then great.

        My day job is a project manager. It’s my job to make facilitate the needs of my clients by providing the resources they need. It sounds like the OPSE would essentially be Security Project Managers for the City.

      • The average detail rate is around $35/hr. the traffic guys at the Superdome are averaging somewhere around $32/hr. The Superdome rates vary a little depending on the event. That equates roughly to time and a half for some. A little less for some and a little more for others depending on rank and time on the job. Overtime has not been consistently available to everyone over the years. However, detail work has always been available to everyone.

        The OPSE service, by their own admission, will increase cost to the person hiring the detail officer and decrease income for the officers working the details. We are hearing it will cost the Superdome $300,000 – $400,000 per year more than they are currently paying.

        In addition, the Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office will not be effected by this plan. This increases the competition for these jobs. When employer’s cost go up, it will almost certainly result in the loss of available jobs for NOPD officers when the Sheriffs office will perform a similar service for a lower rate.

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