I was cutting my grass, listening to the First Thursday podcast. The First Thursday podcast is hosted by Will Aitchison. Once a month, Will talks about legal issues from around the country that impact law enforcement. Will runs the Labor Relations Information System which tracks issues related to collective bargaining and discipline for law enforcement and fire personnel. Will is widely respected and I like to listen to his podcast every month. Will also wrote The Rights of Law Enforcement Officers, which is a fantastic book on many of the issues we attorneys deal with regularly here in New Orleans. I have had the opportunity to meet Will and hear him speak. I am comfortable saying that Will knows what he is talking about.
At about 45:00 into the July First Thursday podcast, Will started talking about a case involving Sgt. Willie Jenkins. I knew that case at once. It was one that Ted and Claude won. The win got Willie 5 days of pay back. We really win more than we should, statistically speaking.
Click here for the Civil Service Commission’s decision related to Sgt. Willie Jenkins. Willie was represented by Claude Schlesinger and Ted Alpaugh.
Click here for the Civil Service Commission’s decision related to Sgt. Joe Davis. I represented Sgt. Davis. Joe got 10 days back as a result of this appeal. That’s 2 weeks of pay.
The NOPD appealed the Civil Service Commission’s decisions in both cases to the Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Click here for the decision from the La. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal as it relates to Sgt. Willie Jenkins. Ted and Claude represented Willie.
Click here for the La. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision as it relates to Sgt. Joe Davis. I represented Joe again.
You can also listen to what Will has to say about Sgt. Jenkins’ case at the 45-minute mark of the July First Thursday podcast.
Civil Service is one good reason to continue employment with the New Orleans Police Department. Civil Service decisions can be found here.
In a decision about what constitutes a strip search and/or a body cavity church, the New Orleans Civil Service Commission granted Sgt. Morrison’s appeal (5 out of 6 charges). The 4th Circuit agreed, stating that NOPD’s definition required that someone perform a visual and/or physical inspection. The evidence, to the contrary, did not indicate there was evidence a strip search occurred. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision is here.
The New Orleans Civil Service Commission granted this officer’s appeal because the NOPD exceeded the time limits found in La. R.S. 40:25431(B)(7) and, therefore, La. R.S. 40:2531(C) required the discipline to be declared an absolute nullity. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the Civil Service Commission in the decision found here.
Click here for link to story from photo above.
First, and foremost, if you are a commissioned law enforcement officer and you do not belong to the Fraternal Order of Police and the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan, you should arrange to join at your earliest opportunity. The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan is, by far, the best legal plan available for police officers. A description of the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan can be found by clicking here.
The most important thing to do when you learn that you are the subject of an investigation by your employer is to call your trusted FOP attorney. If you do not have an FOP attorney, you can call me (Donovan Livaccari) and I will try to help get you the best representative considering your circumstances.. There is also a list of approved counsel at http://www.fop.net. Administrative cases for the New Orleans Police Department are a little different. You should definitely call me for NOPD administrative investigations.
Should you call if it is a straight forward case that was recorded on BWC? Yes.
Should you call if you are just a witness? Yes.
Should you call if you know for sure you will be sustained? Absolutely yes.
Should you call if you were told there was no need to call? Certainly.
What if you were told the case would be exonerated or unfounded? Yep.
Officers might only deal with their agency’s disciplinary system once in their careers. It is not a part of agency operations that officers are particularly familiar with. Even officers who may consider themselves veterans of the disciplinary system are usually not thoroughly familiar with the procedures applicable to internal investigations.
The FOP also has a benefit available to its members called the Salary Reimbursement Option (SRO). The SRO allows an officer who is not going to appeal a suspension to recoup some, if not all, of what was lost due to the suspension. For example, let’s suppose you got a 1-day suspension for missing court. After discussing the pros and cons of appealing this suspension with your FOP attorney, you decide that an appeal would be a waste of time — you know you were properly subpoenaed on a case you worked on, you missed court, and there are no Police Officer Bill of Rights issues. You and your attorney conclude that the chances of success on appeal are slim, at best. The Salary Reimbursement Option will reimburse you for the 1 day of salary you lost because of the suspension. The SRO rules require that the FOP member be represented by one of the FOP attorneys during the investigation.
The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan allows its members to hire a professional to assist them with a stressful situation that they are probably not completely familiar with. In fact, there is as much misinformation going around regarding the disciplinary process as there is good information, if not more. I have been doing this work as a full time job since I left NOPD in 2008. That 14 years of experience as a full time job. I also worked on disciplinary cases at NOPD for the 4 years between my graduation from law school and my retirement from NOPD.
The fact is that as an FOP member, you are very likely to belong to the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan. Throughout the State of Louisiana, the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan members can sleep a little better knowing that representation is just a phone call away. I haven’t mentioned criminal investigations or civil actions yet, but representation in those matters is also just a phone call away. If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.
Sometimes witness officers become accused officers. Sometimes cases that are clearly unfounded become sustained for a different reason. These are all good reasons to pick up the phone and call. You don’t have to worry about how busy I am or whether the investigation is worthy of representation. As a member of FOP’s Legal Defense Plan, you are entitled to representation and I am happy to provide it. In addition, calling for representation keeps your options available for things like SRO or appeal. Make the call. If you don’t have my number, ask in roll call. It won’t be hard to find. Just make the call.
The New Orleans Civil Service Department announced that the application process for Police Lieutenant will open from January 14, 2022, through February 4, 2022, at 5:00 pm. In order to take the test, candidates need to have two years of experience as a Police Sergeant. Candidates are also required to have 90 college credit hours on one transcript in order to sit for the exam. If you have college credits at different institutions, do not wait to get them consolidated onto one transcript.
Candidates can sign up for the exam online by clicking here.
The test is tentatively scheduled for April 11, 2022.
These deadlines and minimum requirements are hard and fast. Missing a deadline or missing out on a minimum requirement will result in the candidate’s application being rejected.
The Fraternal Order of Police will be offering test prep seminars to help our members prepare for the exam. We will put out the information as soon as it is available.
I recently posted an article on police details that discussed what details are and how they work. Details are paid for by individuals, businesses, or entities other than the New Orleans Police Department. Nobody works a police detail for the New Orleans Police Department. It simply does not work that way. Police details exist because sometimes people and/or businesses need security services that are solely for their benefit. Since these services only benefit a small number of people, nobody can expect the New Orleans Police Department, a municipal police department paid for by tax dollars, to perform these specialized services using personnel on the public payroll. However, these officers do benefit the larger community by supplementing publicly funded police services.
The Consent Decree
In 2012, the City of New Orleans entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice. There are 10 pages of the consent decree dedicated to police details – Section XVI – Secondary Employment System, paragraphs 332-374.
Why is this a matter of constitutional policing? It is not.
In order to be able to explain the impact of the consent decree as it relates to police details, it is important to know how it worked before the consent decree. Before the consent decree, if you had a security need to address and wanted to hire a police officer for that purpose, you would just ask a police officer that you knew. If you didn’t know anyone, you could call your district station. You would work out the details with whatever officer you contacted about the police detail.
The consent decree mandated the creation of the Office of Police Secondary Employment (OPSE). OPSE was supposed to be a function of the City of New Orleans. There would be no need for police officers to coordinate details any longer – OPSE would perform that function.
332. The Secondary Employment Coordinating Office (“Coordinating Office”) shall have sole authority to arrange, coordinate, arrange fully-auditable payment, and perform all other administrative functions related to NOPD employees’ off-duty secondary law enforcement employment (historically referred to as paid details) and shall be operated in accordance with the requirements of this Agreement.United States of America v. City of New Orleans, Consent Decree, Page 85, Paragraph 332.
The consent decree lays out how OPSE is supposed to function. Customers would call OPSE to hire detail officers. OPSE would determine how many officers were needed, what kind of supervision would be necessary, the need for police vehicles, etc. Once OPSE and the customer agree on those things and the price of the detail, OPSE would bill the customer for the police detail and post the job so that officers can sign up. The customer would pay OPSE. OPSE then pays the officers who work the detail on their city paychecks. OPSE collects a fee on every detail hour worked and is supposed to be self-funding.
Before an officer can work a paid detail, that officer has to submit a detail authorization form. The detail authorization form goes up the chain of command and has to be approved before the officer can work the detail. The purpose of the form is to make sure the officer is in good standing to work the detail and to make sure the detail itself is suitable for a uniformed NOPD officer to work.
To recap – The person or business that wants to hire a detail calls OPSE. OPSE looks into the detail and, if the detail is approved, posts the detail on the OPSE detail portal. OPSE bills the person or business who arranged the detail. Once all of the approvals are obtained, the officer works the detail. The officer is paid by the City of New Orleans on the officer’s paycheck. The paystub is not exactly clear, but the money all comes for the same place.
OPSE’s job is to handle all aspects of paid details except actually doing the work. OPSE monitors compliance with the rules and regulations governing paid details as they exist as per the consent decree. If there are problems with officers exceeding the number of hours allowed, then it is OPSE’s job to notify the officer and get the officer back in compliance.
Short version – I appreciate having been able to represent so many hard-working police officers over the last 13 years. Don’t every hesitate to pick up the phone. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving! You can skip the rest if you want.
In 2000, I decided to go to law school. I had just gotten married and I was working as a police officer in New Orleans. Fortunately, my assignments at NOPD allowed me to attend the Loyola University night program. I graduated from law school in 2004. I had been promoted to sergeant in 2003. I had also become more involved in the Fraternal Order of Police.
In 2004 I had also been transferred to the Traffic Division. I was commander of the Fatality Investigations Unit and I was also beginning to represent police officers in disciplinary proceedings.
I can say, based on experience, it is not a good idea to have a fellow police officer as a representative. That being said, Katrina created a unique set of circumstances that helped me get through those 4 years unscathed. If it hadn’t been for Katrina, I think representing police officers as a police officer would have backfired in some way. Fortunately, that never came to pass and I gained valuable experience during those 4 years.
Jim Gallagher, who has worked tirelessly to make the FOP better and better as long as I have known him, was instrumental in getting me involved in the Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. Since then, Jim’s vision and commitment to providing FOP members with the best services and benefits has allowed me to provide better and better legal services to FOP members. I am certainly grateful for that. I took a deferred pension in 2008 and I have been representing police officers since then. For the past few years, I have had the good fortune to represent about 400 police officer per year – between 60 and 90 different officers per month – in some capacity. I am grateful for that.
That is the point of all this rambling. I appreciate being able to represent police officers in New Orleans and throughout the state of Louisiana. I am grateful for being General Counsel for the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police. I am looking forward to being able to provide legal services to police officers for years to come and I will be grateful for that too. Thank you.
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.
There have been confusing and conflicting reports about the role of law enforcement on January 6, 2021. Even the title of the podcast linked above is confusing. This podcast is only about the “failure” of law enforcement on January 6, 2021 insofar as there were unreported successes. If for no other reason, this podcast is worth listening I guess to for the perspective of the Capital Police Captain reported in the second half of the podcast. The whole podcast is worth listening to. My guess is that all law enforcement officers have had similar experiences, whether they followed a hurricane or happened on the Pontchartrain Expressway.