Economic Impact for the City of New Orleans
Sugar Bowl (2012) – $493.73 million (Metro New Orleans) http://www.allstatesugarbowl.org/site.php?pageID=19&newsID=564#.Uy3IA61dViY
WrestleMania XXX – Unknown – Estimated 80,000 visitors http://www.neworleanscvb.com/press-media/press-kit/whats-new/
What do all of these things have in common? The police details which contribute significantly to making these events safe and successful will not be handled by the Office of Police Secondary Employment (OPSE).
On March 13, 2014, Judge Susie Morgan revised the OPSE implementation schedule to allow for Major Special Events and Festivals to remain outside of the OPSE system through May 15, 2014. See also this article by John Simerman found in The Advocate. All of these events will have taken place by May 15, 2014 — the money will be made and the City’s reputation as a premier event destination will be in tact.
The City of New Orleans wants it this way. Why wouldn’t they? The police detail system in New Orleans has a proven record of success. Despite reports to the contrary, the police system, with very few exceptions, has operated for years without scandal. The police detail system, as it existed before the Consent Decree signed in 2013, existed to provide enterprising, hard-working police officers with a method to make extra money. The detail system also served to provide business owners and individuals with the option of hiring professional, well-trained, well-equipped police officers to provide security. Police officers who could take action, if warranted.
The police detail system that existed before the Consent Decree allowed the market to control hourly rates. Nobody was forced to pay $51/hr for a detail on the Fourth of July. One might have trouble filling a detail on Christmas Day for $20/hr, but if you had a regular detail officer, he or she might just understand that $51/hr was out of your budget. There was a constant balancing of supply and demand. Officers were able to calculate a cost-benefit analysis for themselves. Did they want to spend their time off on Thanksgiving Day working or did they have family obligations. They were able to make a personal decision of when it became worth it to them to forgo the family obligations. Detail employers were able to make similar decisions. How does this Mardi Gras Day detail benefit me and is it worth the premium pay demanded on such an occasion? It all worked out in the wash.
Who benefited from such an arrangement? Well, we all did.
Who benefits from this new system? Well, that is a much more complicated answer.
I think that it is clear that neither the citizens of New Orleans nor the police officers employed by the New Orleans Police Department benefit from this new system. The City says that 171 of the 778 officers signed up with the OPSE have worked details under the new system. OPSE indicates they are processing more than $40,000 per pay cycle in detail earnings paid to police officers. That translates to roughly 1,350 hours every two weeks.
In a recent article by Naomi Martin of the Times-Picayune/NOLA.COM, she indicates the City’s records showed 13,300 detail hours worked in November, 2013. It is important to note that in November, 2013, the overwhelmingly vast majority of police details were still operating under the old system. The article further points out that in March, 2012 there were 20,500 hours logged in the old detail system and 34,360 hours in December, 2010. Those hours represent hours worked by police officers which are not funded by taxes.
Based on the figures provided by OPSE, they have been averaging about 2,700 hours of detail hours per month.
The City thinks they will benefit from the new system. It is not going to be the $5/hour for every detail hour worked they plan on using to fund the OPSE. That money will be insufficient for years (which translates to the taxpayers funding the OPSE office). See here also. The City thinks it will benefit from equipment fees which will be added to the cost of police details at some point in the future. For example, they may charge $29.33/hour for the officer, $5.00 per hour for OPSE operation, and $5.00/hour to use an NOPD vehicle or $10/hour to use a NOPD horse. It is the equipment fee that will be transferred to the General Fund. Rest assured that money will be lost once it hits the General Fund. It won’t be used to pay for gasoline for the vehicle used or hay or veterinary services for the horse — maybe on paper…
The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section (DOJ) benefits the most. New Orleans is the first Consent Decree to include provisions regarding police details. Police details have nothing to do with constitutional policing. Police details have nothing to do with NOPD patterns or practices with regard to the 4th or 5th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It should not be in the Consent Decree.
However, the DOJ is attempting to “write the book” on American policing through the drafting of Consent Decrees. It could be said they are in the Consent Decree business. The inclusion of off-duty security services in the Consent Decree represents an expansion of their influence on how Washington D.C. believes New Orleans and other cities should behave. The DOJ believes the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) is a significant contributor to the woes of the OPSE. They would have OPSO operate under OPSE or similar restriction to “level the playing field.” It is my opinion the OPSO argument is a red herring. OPSO is a distraction from the real problem, which is that the OPSE and the ten pages of the Consent Decree related thereto are not going to work.
The DOJ doesn’t care if OPSE doesn’t work. The DOJ would blame the City or the officers and move on. The City, on the other hand wouldn’t be able to shrug it off so easily. The NOPD is losing manpower at alarming rates. Becoming less competitive in the law enforcement employment market will only exacerbate that problem. That chicken has already come home to roost.
The DOJ would argue that the NOPD would just have to provide on-duty officers to provide security for these events. With manpower problems at critical levels already, that suggestion is simply worthless. The NOPD struggles on a regular basis to provide base police services to the community because of manpower problems.
The 6 events listed at the top of this article represent over $1 billion in economic impact for the City of New Orleans. Most of that is annually recurring. Threats to that are threats to the continued economic viability of the region. OPSE, and more specifically the existence of the secondary employment plan for NOPD officers in the Consent Decree, constitutes such a threat.
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