There has been a little bit of attention to police details in the New Orleans media recently. I do not think that members of the public really care about police details. But, if they do, then they should understand exactly what is being discussed. So, for a change, this article is as much for members of the general public as it is for law enforcement professionals.
What are police details?
There are really two types of police details. There are details that a police officer gets, usually because of his or her assignment, that are intended for the police officer to work as part of his or her regular tour of duty. For example, members of the NOPD Color Guard might have to begin the festivities at the annual luncheon for the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation. The NOPD Color Guard might also have to display our colors at a funeral, such as this one in remembrance of fallen Police Officer Natasha Hunter. These details are part of an officer’s regular tour of duty. That is to say that the officers detailed to these functions performed their duties as all or part of their shift for that day and are paid by their agency. Color Guard is just one type of detail. The NOPD details officers to dignitary visits when they need to protect a motorcade. The NOPD details officers to training functions. There are a variety of jobs officers are detailed to. Generally, these function are the type that are not performed every day — there are no officers permanently assigned to that function.
The second type of police detail is the kind that is also referred to as secondary employment. The NOPD consent decree requires that secondary employment details be handled through the New Orleans Office of Police Secondary Employment (OPSE). This is not to be confused with outside employment. Outside employment is when a police officer works as a tax preparer in his or her spare time. Outside employment is not the type of work that has to go through OPSE. The regulations governing outside employment can be found here. The regulation governing secondary employment, also known as police details, can be found here.
Police details occur when someone hires an off-duty police officer to perform a security function for them. Examples of police details range from hiring a police officer to sit and watch the family home while everyone is out at a funeral. Burglars are known to target the homes of people whose family members died recently because all of the details of the funeral proceedings are generally published in the newspaper (or some other type of public notice). One might hire a police detail for a wedding or a big birthday party to watch people to and from their cars. Businesses often hire detail officers to supplement their security when they have special needs. I have worked a police detail on horseback at the grand opening of a movie theater. I have worked police details at downtown hotels during Mardi Gras. Parade organizers had to shorten the route of the Krewe of BOO! parade on October 21, 2021 because the event producers were unable to hire enough detail officers to cover the whole route. The downtown hotels will need police details at upcoming Bayou Classic functions. Many Bayou Classic functions are staffed by detail officers so these functions do not further deplete the already depleted manpower of the New Orleans Police Department.
Police details are a way to provide for specific security needs of people and businesses within the jurisdiction. For the sake of this discussion, the jurisdiction is the City of New Orleans. Police details allow people and business to address their specific security needs without taxing the NOPD’s already taxed manpower. Police details also provide a way for hard-working police officers to supplement the salaries paid by the City. Police details function as a good recruitment tool as potential hires take this earnings potential into account when considering where to work. Potential recruits consider their base salary, state supplemental pay, millage, educational incentive, the availability of overtime, and the availability of police details.
Police details benefit the City of New Orleans and the police who life and work in New Orleans by supplementing police services without any cost to the taxpayer. Detail officers assist the officers who are working by providing officers who are able to respond to certain incidents much quicker. Detail officers also relieve regularly working officers from performing some of the time intensive duties.