On Monday, January 23, 2023, I received a phone call from Superintendent Michelle Woodfork. She wanted to explain that she was committed to paying all NOPD employees the same. So, while it remains possible that all NOPD officers will receive a 10% premium pay and a $26/hr. special rate of pay, Chief Woodfork is not going to allow some people to get the premium pay and the special rate of pay while others do not.
The Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police is also committed to getting NOPD parade personnel, NOPD District personnel, and law enforcement officers from other agencies who have come to help get Mardi Gras Krewes back on their regular routes. As I said at the end of last week, it sounded like a plan was coming together, and, as Col. John “Hannibal” Smith used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together.” I hope everyone understands the importance of plans coming together.
Today, a Press Release was issued by the Mayor’s Office that appeared to say that some NOPD officers would be paid one thing and another group of NOPD officers would be paid more during Mardi Gras. The Press Release suggested that the officers who were not being paid as much as their peers could work paid details (extra work after their regular 12-hour shifts) to make up the difference. This article appeared on NOLA.COM seemed to confirm that. The FOP said that was unacceptable.
The message to FOP members is that we have not given up yet. Once plans are solidly in place, I will be happy to share details with our members. Until then, we continue to work with the Mayor’s Office, the CAO’s Office, the Director of Personnel, the Civil Service Commission, Superintendent Woodfork, the NOPJF, and others to make sure that Mardi Gras pay is equitable.
On behalf of Sgt. Willie Jenkins and the FOP Labor Committee and myself, Claude Schlesinger, and the Legal Committee let’s work on quelling the rumors that are making the rounds. I will post an update once I can share more.
I know many of you have seen information regarding Mardi Gras compensation coverage due to our staffing shortage.
While I welcome any assistance from outside law enforcement to ensure we have a safe carnival season, my position has been and will always remain all officers should receive equal compensation across the board regardless of their respective duties.
As you are aware Mardi Gras coverage is a collective effort throughout the department which require officers who would normally work their regular police duties to engage in parade coverage which ultimately results in other officers in the districts working additional hours and days to supplement the loss for those assigned to the parade route.
Furthermore, we are bound by our oath of office to protect the entire city despite special events coverage; therefore, all officers should receive equal compensation.
In the coming days, we will finalize all aspects of the 2023 Mardi Gras plan including the compensation levels. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure equity in compensation for all officers.
I will provide an update to the rank and file of NOPD with all information once completed.
I appreciate your hard work in preparing for this upcoming Mardi Gras season.
Thank you for your continued dedication to our community.
I and other FOP Board members have received numerous phone calls from other officers asking about a rumor that the City of New Orleans would be paying officers from other jurisdictions $50/hr. to come to New Orleans and work the parades and other assignments working its way up to Mardi Gras and $75/hr. on Mardi Gras Day. After having received a phone call from FOP VP Willie Jenkins, III and since I had not heard anything official about this, I sent an email to New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño to see what I could find out. I immediately received a text from Ms. Montaño asking if he could call me on the telephone.
Mr. Montaño explained that he was currently working with his team on two (2) separate plans to bring pay for current NOPD employees up to at least $50/hr. for the period leading up to Mardi Gras Day and at least $75/hr., if not more, for Mardi Gras Day, February 21, 2023. This temporary pay increase will be legal and justifiable because NOPD officers will have to supervise officers from other jurisdictions — at least help them out and call for a rank, if necessary.
Mr. Montaño told me that he anticipates that these plans may be considered by the New Orleans Civil Service Commission on January 20, 2023. The next stop would be at the New Orleans City Council on February 2, 2023 for approval by the City Council. Put those two dates on your calendar, it may be necessary to attend in support of these two plans.
I also got a call from a former NOPD officer who now works at another law enforcement agency. I must say that he sounded better and I am happy about that. He told me how his rank had explained the New Orleans Mardi Gras invitation and then, knowing he had come from New Orleans, asked if it was worth $75/hr. to work during Mardi Gras. While his answer had been no, my answer would have been yes.
First, $50/hr and $75/hr are good wages for working Mardi Gras. Second, it would be terrific experience for any outside agencies. Other cities have tried to have a New Orleans style Mardi Gras only to have the party turn into a brawl. Third, you won’t get this type of experience anywhere else. I am sure someone is thinking “they have big crowds in New York all the time and they seem to manage.” Have you ever been to New York for a special event? It is not the same. My daughter and I were in New York for the 4th of July and waited in a long line, put into pens without access to restrooms, food, water, etc. and left there for what would have been hours. I say what would have been hours because we split and went back to watch the fireworks on television at the hotel. I was glad we were allowed to leave.
I had fun at every Mardi Gras I ever worked. I worked on the parade route, in the districts, on motorcycles, on horseback, and in the lead vehicle for parades. It was fun. If I had been paid $50-$75/hr. or more, it would have been more fun.
While there is an occasional incident at Mardi Gras, I can say in all honesty that I didn’t see any or have to work any. I may have had to maneuver a parade around one, but it was not a big deal.
In short: If you are a law enforcement officer from another agency who has an opportunity to come to New Orleans to work Mardi Gras, I would do it. It is fun and the pay is good. If you are a law enforcement officer employed by the NOPD, put 1/20/23 and 2/2/23 on your calendar. You too should be making at least $50 and $75 per hour and we need to make sure we support CAO Montaño’s efforts to make it so.