The New Orleans Police Department should be making Police Officer IV promotions soon. Inevitably, there will be some people who are passed over for this promotion. The most common reason for someone to be passed over is a pending DI-1 investigation. Other reasons one might be passed over include recent disciplinary actions, not having enough time to be included on the register (6 years), excessive undocumented sick days, and simple mistakes or oversight on behalf of the NOPD.
A DI-1 is considered pending from the date the DI-1 is initiated. In the case of a not sustained, unfounded, or exonerated DI-1, the DI-1 is no longer pending when the not sustained, unfounded, or exonerated disposition has been approved up the chain of command. If the DI-1 is sustained the DI-1 is no longer pending when the Superintendent of Police signs of on the disciplinary letter.
That means that when the investigator gives you a “Notice to Accused Law Enforcement Officer Under Investigation of a Pre-Disciplinary Hearing or a Determination of an Unfounded or Unsustained Complaint” form, the DI-1 is still pending. If the recommended disposition is not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded, then it will be finalized when it is approved up the chain of command. It should be noted that the recommended disposition can also be changed to sustained on its way up the chain of command.
If the recommended disposition is sustained, then you will be later issued a Notice of Disciplinary Hearing. A disciplinary hearing will actually follow that notice and you will be informed of a recommended penalty. The DI-1 is still pending at that point. The DI-1 will remain pending while the recommended penalty goes up the chain of command and is not final until signed off on by the appointing authority. In the NOPD, the appointing authority is the Superintendent of Police.
How do you know when all that happens? Well, in the case of sustained violations, you know for sure when you are told to go to PIB to sign for a disciplinary letter. This is a letter that is on NOPD departmental letterhead (as opposed to a 105). If the case is not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded, you will not be notified. The best way to know the status of any pending DI-1 is to go to PIB and request a copy of your short form. If you need assistance interpreting the DI-1, feel free to give me a call.
PRIOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION
Current policy dictates that an officer is ineligible for promotion if there has been a sustained disciplinary infraction that included a penalty greater than Letter of Reprimand for a period of one year from the date of the infraction. So, if you had a sustained disciplinary investigation and the penalty for that violation included any suspension days, you are ineligible to be promoted for a period of time. Again, your short form contains the relevant information to be considered.
For example, if an officer was the subject of a disciplinary investigation that was initiated on 10/1/13 which was sustained and the officer was suspended for one day, then that officer would not be eligible for promotion until 10/1/14. However, you do become eligible for promotion once that period has passed. If an officer is disciplined with a Letter of Reprimand, that officer’s eligibility to be promoted is not effected.
If you do not meet the minimum qualification for promotion, you will not be placed on the register by Civil Service. For example, if you did not have six (6) years when P/O IV promotions are made, you will not be on the promotional register. However, it is possible to be added to the register if an officer no longer lacks one of the minimum qualifications such as the length of service requirement. Let us know if you run into that problem.
EXCESSIVE SICK LEAVE
Officers are allowed eight (8) undocumented sick leave days per calendar year. If you exceed eight (8) undocumented sick leave days in a calendar year, you will be deemed ineligible for promotion. As a brief recap, every sick leave usage starts out undocumented. If you turn in an NOPD Form 50 when you return to work, the sick leave usage is changed to documented. If you have this particular problem, feel free to call.
Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes folks are inadvertently passed over for a myriad of reasons. If you are passed over and you don’t have any of the issues detailed above, give us a call and we will be happy to look into it. The NOPD has committed to promoting any mistakenly passed over individuals with back pay. Sometimes this has been an uphill battle, but Chief Landry and her staff have been very helpful.
In addition to P/O IV promotions being on the horizon, we anticipate that there will be more Police Sergeants promoted off of the current register and Civil Service intends to give a Police Lieutenant test later this year (October-ish). There has also been an increase in the number of DI-1 investigations largely as a result of the consent decree.
Everyone should make a habit of requesting a copy of his or her short form on a regular basis to make sure they know the status of their disciplinary file. You can do this by appearing at PIB and completing a request that is available at the front desk.
The Fraternal Order of Police is dedicated to assisting officers however we can. However, the only way we know about these promotional problems is if the officer experiencing problems tells us. In the past, I have spoken with many P/O II, P/O III, and Sergeant applicants and we have been able to help most of them. We can track the one year waiting period or check on the status of pending items. We can’t do any of that if we don’t know of the problem.