Progress

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Recently, the FOP was presented with draft regulations which were geared toward overhauling the disciplinary system.  The regulations sought to change the penalty matrix, as well as some of the procedures.  It would constitute a major overhaul of the current system.  

Given the opportunity to present written comments on the regulation, I really dug into it and submitted a rather lengthy assessment of the new rules.  We met with the administration following those written comments and the police administration explained that they agreed with many of my comments and they were going to take them the the DOJ for approval.  We were also given the opportunity to supplement out written comments.  Jake Lundy composed and submitted the supplemental comments on behalf of the FOP.  

I am happy to report that the major comments made by myself and Jake Lundy have led to changes in the regulation.  While it is not perfect, it is MUCH better than it was.

For example, the new system reduced the number of offenses that could be resolved by a letter of reprimand from 45 to 11.  That has been expanded significantly and the penalty matrix now includes oral reprimand as an option for minor offenses.  

Another example is that what would qualify as a second offense was tightened up significantly.  It is too complex to explain here, but it was originally “crazy” in my estimation.  The changes have led to a system that is very similar to what we have now except for the more serious offenses. 

Finally, there were some changes to the policies relative inadvertent BWC violations.  

These new regulations should be effective around May 15, 2016.  It will still be more important than ever to make use of the FOP Legal Defense Plan – even for minor offenses or BS allegations. So, call when you find yourself the accused officer, you all have my number.  

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Vote YES on April 9, 2016 for the #NOPD Police and Fire Millage

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FOPNO Urges Passage of Police and Fire Millage Proposal

The New Orleans chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is urging its members and the citizens of New Orleans to vote in favor of the Police and Fire Millage Proposal which will appear on the ballot on Saturday, April 9, 2016.

Our dedicated police officers, when responding to calls of crimes in progress and when stopping dangerous felons on our streets, deserve to know that backup officers are available if needed.

In 2010, faced with a budget crisis, the administration of the City of New Orleans had to make some hard choices.  Some of those choices resulted in our Police Department becoming severely understaffed.  We now have an opportunity to assure that the New Orleans Police Department has the tools to recruit the law enforcement professionals we desperately need in order to become properly sized and equipped to adequately protect our city.

The New Orleans Police Department has been working hard to recruit career law enforcement officers to serve and protect the people who live in or visit our city.  It is crucial that we are able to provide top notch law enforcement services to our city, which is home to more than 300,000 people, the hub of a metropolitan area of more than 1,000,000 people and a major tourist destination.  It is also crucial that our current law enforcement professionals feel that they will have the backup they need day-in and day-out while performing a very dangerous job.

The men and women of the New Orleans Police Department have been working tirelessly for you.  On Saturday, April 9th, you will have the opportunity to tell those officers that you appreciate their hard work and that you are committed to making the New Orleans Police Department one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the nation.

The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police urges our members, their friends and families, and all of our fellow New Orleanians, to vote in favor of the Police and Fire Millage proposal on April 9, 2016.  Please help us help ourselves and you.

The Fraternal Order of Police is the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 330,000 members in more than 2,200 lodges.  In Louisiana, there are over 6,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police and in New Orleans, the Crescent City Lodge has more than 2,000 members, including 90% of the active law enforcement officers employed by the New Orleans Police Department.  We are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities.  We are committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those we serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation.  No one knows the dangers and the difficulties faced by today’s police officers better than another officer, and no one knows police officers better than the FOP.

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Contact:
Donovan Livaccari
504-905-8280

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Poll on #NOPD Promotions

In an article that appeared on NOLA.COM today, March 15, 2016, Superintendent Harrison is said to have indicated “that the complaints of a few officers about the promotion process are not representative of the staff as a whole. Most officers feel the promotions have been fair, he said.”  To be fair, this is the reporter’s paraphrasing and not a direct quote from Superintendent Harrison.  In that vain, please take a moment to click on a selection in the poll below.  The question below is relative to your feelings about how promotions to the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant have been made since the implementation of the “Great Place to Work” initiative, which eliminated the rule of 3.  As usual, no personal information is collected about those who participate.

Poll on FOP Statement of 3/9/16

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In COMSTAT on March 10, 2016, Superintendent Harrison indicated that the FOP’s statements regarding Asst. Superintendent Westbrook’s recent comments were designed to inflame the feelings of police officers on the topic.  This was reported by the Uptown Messenger here.  It is my contention that the FOP’s statements were intended to convey the already inflamed feelings of police officers on the topic.  I am interested in your thoughts on the matter.

No personal information will be collected in connection with responding to this poll.

#NOPD Asst. Supt. Arlinda Westbrook Should Resign

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An article appeared on NOLA.com today (3/9/16), with accompanying video, wherein NOPD Assistant Superintendent Arlinda Westbrook was quoted as saying that if NOPD officers have been involved in a recent shooting that involved JPSO deputies that those officers would have been arrested on the spot.  She cited the NOPD policy which addresses the use of deadly force and moving vehicles as the reason why these hypothetical NOPD officers would have been arrested “on the spot.”  These statements are ludicrous, reckless, and unnecessarily inflammatory.  These statements bring disrepute to the department and in making these statements, Ms. Westbrook has proven that she is not fit to be a member of the New Orleans Police Department.

First of all, Ms. Westbrook has never been a police officer.  Ms. Westbrook apparently has no concept of probable cause.  We live, and police officers work, under the rule of law.  People are not arrested or put in jail for violating policies, unless that violation is also a violation of the law.  The law does not prohibit shooting at a moving vehicle when the vehicle is being used as a weapon.  The fact that NOPD has a policy that addresses the use of force with regard to moving vehicles and JPSO does not have such a policy is neither here nor there.  The analysis regarding the legality of the use of force is the same whether it happens in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, or Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Every law enforcement officer has to have a thorough understanding of the basic concept of probable cause. Ms. Westbrook’s comments prove that she does not.  It does not matter that Ms. Westbrook has been running the public integrity bureau now for years, she clearly is not fit for the job. In fact, it should raise questions about any case where a probable cause determination has been made by her office.

It is obvious that these statements were intended to placate the grieving family of an individual who was tragically lost in a scene that, although uncommon, seems to have been played time and time again on the local and national news.  We received a statement from the NOPD indicating that Ms. Westbrook made an error in an attempt to explain NOPD’s policy on shooting at moving vehicles.  Perhaps Ms. Westbrook got caught up in the moment and misspoke.  It is possible that she would retract the statements given the opportunity.  However, the damage has been done.  These statements tend to cause a chilling effect on members of the NOPD.  It would compound the tragedy if an officer were to get hurt or killed because they were wondering if they would be “arrested on the spot” when they were put in a position to take action in a tense, rapidly evolving set of circumstances.  We empathize with the Mr. Harris’s family and would certainly rather not find ourselves in the position of having to address this situation.  That being said, we believe that Ms. Westbrook should resign and, failing that, Superintendent Harrison should insist that she resign.

FOP’s week on Capitol Hill

This past week FOP representatives from across the nation flew to Washington DC for the annual “Day on the Hill” event where the FOP’s national legislative agenda is discussed with members of the House and Senate. With 300,000+ members nationwide, a lobby presence, and state and national legislative offices, the FOP is often able to gain support for, and advance legislation that benefits those who serve this nation in law enforcement and public safety generally.

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Louisiana 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham, MD

Fraternal Order of Police Louisiana representatives included Darrel Basco, State President; Patrick Yoes, National Secretary; Dawn Powell, State Legislative Committee Chair; James Gallagher, Secretary-Treasurer; and myself, Jacob Lundy, Policy Chairman. Meetings throughout the week included Congressman John Flemming (R); Congressman Charles Boustany (R); Congressman Cedric Richmond (D); Senator Bill Cassidy (R); Senator David Vitter (R); Congressman Steve Scalise (R); Congressman Ralph Abraham (R), and Congressman Garrett Graves (R).

The 2016 FOP national legislative agenda was discussed throughout the week (details below), however FOP Louisiana and FOP New Orleans would like to point out that the murder of Officer Ashley Guindon in nearby Prince William County Virginia on February 27 during her first day on the job dominated talk in Washington and FOP addressed the anti-law enforcement climate around the nation and its effects on public safety with all members of congress from the beginning.

All representatives were predictably alarmed and engaged on this topic and pledged their support in helping to guide discourse in a reasonable and constructive direction, both in Washington and via national media. Our representatives also openly acknowledged their concern over what appears to be a national police recruiting drought with growing vacancies and increasing delays in calls for help as a result of the current climate.

I should make special mention here that each and every member of Congress personally sent their sincere thanks to the men and women of Louisiana law enforcement who continue to serve their communities day in and day out.

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Candid discussions of public safety, criminal justice, and law enforcement specific issues took place during the week with members of congress, many of whom sought FOP’s input on their own agenda items currently underway (body cameras, sentencing reform, opiate/opioid legislation, etc).

FOP’s national legislative agenda for 2016 included the following items of note for Louisiana members;

  • H.R. 973/S. 1651 the “Social Security Fairness Act,” FOP sought and received considerable support for restoring full social security benefits for law enforcement officers who pay into social security via details and additional side-employment throughout their careers but are denied full benefits at retirement
  • Enact S. 125/H.R. 228 to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program which would provide for matching federal funds in purchasing body armor for state and local law enforcement
  • Support for restoration of the Department of Defense 1033 Surplus Equipment Program. As everyone knows, a single media event resulted in the knee-jerk decision to kill the 1033 program which provides demilitarized equipment to state and local law enforcement; equipment most commonly used to rescue victims of natural disasters or respond to active shooter scenarios – most recently to safely neutralize two well-armed terrorists in San Bernardino following a mass casualty shooting
  • Full funding of the COPS hiring and other grant programs
  • Full funding of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) Programs

All national agenda items received overwhelming support from our representatives, many of whom requested follow-up from the FOP’s national legislative office in Washington DC.

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Louisiana 4th District Congressman John Flemming, MD

In addition to scheduled agenda items, Jim Gallagher and Jacob Lundy were asked to meet with Congressman Cedric Richmond outside of the in-progress House Judiciary Committee hearing on the FBI-Apple debate where we provided input to Congressman Richmond on FOP’s general position as well our direct experience negotiating such obstacles in the course of major felony investigations, namely homicides. Our discussion with Congressman Richmond may be seen on Canal+ television. It is worth noting just after our meeting with Congressman Richmond at the House Judiciary Committee hearing that East Baton Rouge District Attorney  Hillar Moore was scheduled to testify on the murder of Brittney Mills, 29, pregnant at the time of her murder, and whose case may hinge on the contents of an Apple product currently inaccessible to law enforcement.

FOP also discussed and voiced opposition to the recently published Police Executive Research Forum’s paper Use of Force: Taking Policing to a Higher Standard, which, among other items, seeks to abandon 30 years of guiding Supreme Court jurisprudence on the objective reasonableness standard established in Graham v. Connor. While FOP pointed out that the paper contains some items all can agree on, and that law enforcement has and always will strive to improve training – the idealism in the PERF document reflects just how untenable law enforcement employment has become. The PERF document and discussions on its premise highlight the ever growing trend of ignoring social issues until they must be confronted by law enforcement, often during violent encounters, only to have law enforcement take the blame for decades of social neglect by all other stakeholders.

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Senator Bill Cassidy

Overall, FOP representatives nationwide, including Louisiana, described 2016’s Day on the Hill as very productive and engaging. Law enforcement and pubic safety generally were very much on the agenda in Washington DC, a city which has lost 800 police officers since 2014 and saw a 50% increase in homicides through 2015. All parties however expressed their commitment to turning that phenomenon around in future.

 

 

FOP Louisiana and FOP New Orleans would like to thank the following for their support during 2016’s Day on the Hill;

  • All members of Congress listed above, as well as their respective legislative staff members
  • Chuck Canterbury, FOP National President
  • Andy Maybo, Capitol Police Department, President FOP Lodge 1 Washington DC
  • All members of the Capitol Police Department
  • Josh Hodges, National Security Policy Advisor – Senator Vitter
  • Jim Pasco, Executive Director FOP Legislative Office, Washington DC
  • Robert Jenkins, President William Nichols Lodge 8, Miami FL
  • Captain David Bernhardt, FOP West Palm Beach FL

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