On February 7, 2020, the leadership of IAFF Local 632, representing the firefighters of the New Orleans Fire Department, met with Mayor LaToya Cantrell, CAO Gilbert Montaño, and other New Orleans administration members. At that time, IAFF Local 632 President Aaron Mischler brought up matters previously agreed to by administration representatives at a prior meeting I attended on behalf of the Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. President Mischler stated that the senior administration officials disavowed agreements made by their representatives at the prior meeting I attended in November 2019. This disavowal led IAFF Local 632 members to declare that they would no longer be accepting off-duty details and extra-duty voluntary assignments.
The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, representing over 1,000 active NOPD officers, as well as another 1,000 retired members, support the actions taken by President Mischler on behalf of IAFF Local 632. The FOP is committed to maintaining the integrity of the New Orleans Civil Service system. The FOP supports the decision by IAFF Local 632 to insist that the administration honor its prior commitments.
The NOPD and the NOFD have been experiencing manpower shortages for several years now. Currently, the NOPD is still about 400 police officers short of manpower goals. The NOPD still lacks the resources necessary to provide the people of New Orleans with the level of service they are entitled to. After replacing long-tenured members of the Civil Service Commission, Mayor Landrieu’s new Commissioners passed new rules that touched on many aspects of public, civil service employment. Many of these rule changes came at the urging of the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region. The introduction of the political influence resulting in the adoption of these new rules and political influence in hiring and promotions are exactly what the civil service provisions in the Louisiana Constitution sought to prevent. Now, the CAO, a political appointee of the Mayor seeks to have unprecedented control over promotions through the use of unchecked authority. This is the kind of political instability that keeps us from reaching manpower goals.
It is crucial that we, the people who live, work, and visit New Orleans, strive to maintain the integrity of the civil service system in New Orleans. In private employment, hiring and promotion decisions made for political reasons, or other unknown, questionable reasons, are taken care of by the market by benefitting the competition. In public employment, there is no competition. There is no market to regulate questionable employment decisions. The Legislature and the people of Louisiana put the regulation in the Louisiana Constitution.
The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police urges the city administration and the members of the Civil Service Commission to seriously consider the years of experience in public service its members and the members of IAFF Local 632 have. Our interest is only to enable the NOPD and NOFD to provide the best service to the people who live in, work in, and visit the City of New Orleans and to work toward a fair and equitable system of employment as governed by the Louisiana Constitution.
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. There are about 6,000 FOP members in Louisiana, 2,000 of those in New Orleans. 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.
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