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.