Brothers and Sisters:
I come before you with concern. There has been word about boycotting the Jazz Festival. This would be premature. Let me explain.
We are engaged in a dispute over how paid details will be administered. Like any dispute, there are stages. We are currently in the “Boots on the Ground” stage. The FOP has engaged in diplomatic efforts. We have attempted to influence negotiations at every turn. The FOP filed an Intervention in Federal Court in an effort to participate in the negotiations. The Judge ruled against us. We have appealed that decision and the appeal is still pending.
The FOP has met with Lt. Col. Salomone to discuss paid detail policies. What we found was a retired Army officer who was tasked with implementing the terms of the Consent Decree. I understand he will continue to work toward that goal until he has different marching orders.
If police officers boycott the Jazz Fest, the organizers simply will hire deputies or security guards and NOPD will supplement coverage with officers on city rolls. A boycott may send a message, but what will we accomplish?
Let’s take the best case scenario. If enough people participate and the Jazz Fest is adversely impacted, the message will be delivered loud and clear that the rank and file are dissatisfied with the proposed plan for paid details. Where would that leave us? The Consent Decree would still be in place with provisions on how paid details will be administered — you don’t think Judge Morgan really cares whether or not you work details, do you?
I am not suggesting we give up. What I am suggesting is that we look at risk versus reward. The risk seems unusually high and the reward unusually low. We still have other options.
As I mentioned earlier, we are in the “Boots on the Ground” phase. We need to mobilize troops and attack points of weakness. In order to facilitate the new paid detail plan, it will be necessary for the Office of Police Secondary Employment to convince our City Council to pass two ordinances. The OPSE will not be able to function at all without these ordinances. That is a point of weakness that presents us with an opportunity.
The current plans for the OPSE present numerous legal questions — questions the City Council will want answered. The FOP has been engaged in discussions with the City Council regarding those questions. We know that the two ordinances will be presented for consideration at the upcoming meeting of the City Council Budget Committee on April 9th. We need your boots on the ground.
I can promise you that the FOP Board will be present at the Budget Committee meeting. I can also promise that the FOP lawyers will be there ready to argue our position. We have been preparing and we are up for the fight. What we will need is you. It is one thing if our Board and hired guns make arguments and it is another thing if you, the people directly affected, are present — even if you leave the speaking to us.
What is the risk? None. What is the reward? The Council could make it very difficult for OPSE to move forward. As an added bonus, our nuclear option of detail boycotts will still be available if we need it.
Think about it like this. North Korea recently threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. They engaged in no diplomacy and have no boots on the ground. What have they accomplished? The United States is not concerned. Other countries with embassies in North Korea aren’t even evacuating. The world is simply looking and wondering why they would do something so stupid. Unless you are Kim Jung Un the nuclear option is rarely the best option.
If you want to make a statement, show up at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in a show of force – on behalf of those who want to keep the public safe and receive a fair wage without adding extra expenses to those who hire detail officers. Work the Jazz Festival. Talk to the citizens and visitors. Work your normal details and ask your detail employers to come to the City Council meeting and share their opinions. Write your elected officials and tell them how the Office of Police Secondary Employment will move us backward and not forward.
We hope you will join us on April 9th at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall for the City Council Budget Committee meeting. We also urge you to come to the FOP meeting on April 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary School cafeteria, located at 1342 Moss St. We will be discussing strategies and options.
Walter Powers, Jr.