About Donovan Livaccari

Louisiana FOP Lawyer

Update on NOPD Survey on Benefits for Recruitment and Retention

Time us running very short for active NOPD officers to complete the survey on benefits for recruitment and retention. You should have an email in your inbox from FOPNO if you are an active member of the NOPD police. The emails were sent on Monday, 11/21/22, and 11/25/22. The link should be in that email and it should work until 8 PM tonight (11/28/22).

I want to thank all of you who participated in this survey. Special thanks goes to Council President Moreno and her staff and Labor Committee Chairman Willie Jenkins, and Labor committee member detective Marylou Agustin for putting a lot of effort into this project.

I also want to thank President Powers for his enthusiasm about the project and Jim Gallagher for distributing the information to our members. Last, but not least, I want to thank the FOP members who took the time to complete the surgery

Remember, for those who have not completed the survey, you have until 8 PM on 11/28/22. So, there is still time. We will see what the survey results are later this week.

NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPARTMENT SURVEY ON BENEFITS FOR RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION

Active NOPD members of FOP Crescent City Lodge #2 should check their email from 11/21/22 and 11/25/22, look for an email from the FOP about Recruitment and Retention Benefits, and open it up. Inside, there will be a link to a survey that will help members of the City Council decide what types of benefits to add, remove, or change to improve NOPD recruitment and retention. If you do not answer the anonymous survey, your thoughts on the matter will not be considered. However, if you take a few minutes and complete the survey, you may be able to help the City Council decide what benefits or types of benefits they should try to implement to improve NOPD recruitment and retention. Please complete and submit the survey. Also, not everyone reads their emails or looks at Signal108 (this website). Please pass this information on to your colleagues. If they have already submitted the survey, they should not submit another. However, the more individuals who complete the survey, the clearer the picture becomes relative to what benefits or types of benefits our current officers would value the most. 

Please look at your inbox on Monday, November 21st, 2022, and look for an email from FOPNO that is titled NOPD Retention Survey. You could also have that same email in your inbox dated today, Friday, November 25th, 2022. Again, please only submit one completed survey per active officer. However, if you started the survey but did not finish or finished the survey but did not submit it, you can still do that if you do it soon.

If, for some reason, you believe that your personal and/or work email address is incorrect in the FOP’s records, please contact us and let us know so that we can straighten out any mistakes. It is important to have accurate information in the FOP’s records. There are beneficiary cards that need to be completed. Addresses need to be accurate. Phone numbers need to be accurate. And the FOP should have your personal email address. Remember, you have no expectation of privacy as it relates to the contents of your work email address. You can avoid that privacy problem simply by signing up for a free Gmail account, Outlook account, Yahoo account, or Protonmail account (https://pr.tn/ref/PVD1E5VEJQVG). If you have any questions about email accounts or about an expectation of privacy, please feel free to call me and I will do my best to explain the situation. 

In any event, please take a minute to find the email from this past Monday (11/21/22) or from Friday (11/25/22) so that you can complete the survey and have your voice counted amongst the others in determining what types of recruitment and retention benefits you personally find valuable and desirable.

When I sat down with Council President Moreno to discuss this survey, that was the goal — To identify the benefits or types of benefits that officers would find valuable and desirable so that we can attack the current manpower shortage and give current officers something that they will be able to use moving forward and become the best recruiters we could possibly have. Finally, we are hoping these benefits will make the NOPD more competitive for new hires and lateral hires. We are competing with agencies from coast to coast all of a sudden. If you are working up north and you don’t like the cold, come on down to New Orleans. We have never experienced lake effect snow in New Orleans.

Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey. You cannot get anything done without sharing your thoughts and ideas on the topics we are trying to do something about. Here is your opportunity. Let’s get this done. I also want to thank Council President Helena Moreno, her Chief of Staff, Andrew Tuozzolo, Sgt. Willie Jenkins, our Labor Committee Chairman, and Det. Marylou Agustin for taking the time to do a deep-dive into these benefits for all of our sakes. Last, but not least, thank you for taking the time to complete and submit the survey. Please spread the word. This is only for active employees of the New Orleans Police Department.

Why I Still Love the FOP

In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” or “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Plenty of things are changing. Are they really staying the same? I wrote a similar blog entry in July of 2015 — more than 7 years ago. What I am convinced of is that things are, indeed, staying the same.

There have been more complaints and, therefore, more investigations into paid details. I suppose paid details are low-hanging fruit. With the possible exception of ignoring the rule that says one can only work 16 hours and 35 minutes, in any capacity, on any one day. Of course, the media jumped on it. How does this sound “Officer Smith worked more than 100 hours in addition to his full-time job as a police officer? How is that possible?” It is possible. There are 168 hours in a week.

Details are easy picking. Any good reporter can make it look like our public servants are doing something wrong by earning six figures. People tend to believe what they hear in the news. That includes police officers. So, when the news reports that there are 26 police officers who have somehow broken the rules as they relate to off-duty paid details, people tend to believe that. Even police officers tend to believe these allegations, even though they know better.

I can tell you, dear reader, that almost every single instance that appeared to be double dipping was, in fact, an error on somebody’s part. In addition, I can also tell you that the vast majority of those errors were made by somebody other than the police officer working the paid detail. Of course, between PIB and OIPM, they came up with the single most onerous solution possible. Their unwritten goal must have been to make the fix to a problem that didn’t really exist as difficult as possible. See, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The federal government decided that they were going to take a look at 16 of these cases involving paid details, allegedly. They issued 5 target letters to five individual police officers which told the officers that their information rate related to paid details was being presented to a grand jury. The target letters did not say the officers were about to be arrested or were to appear in court to defend themselves or anything like that. One thing that I am convinced of is that the federal prosecutors are going to be very disappointed. They are going to find the same thing that I found.

First of all, paid details are privately contracted business affairs between the police officer and the entity or person hiring that police officer. The City of New Orleans jumped through many hoops to make sure everybody understood that a police officer working a paid detail was not working as a city employee at that moment. In fact, that whole question went as far as the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, which agreed with the decision from the Eastern District of Louisiana that a police officer working in off-duty paid detail was not acting as an employee of the city of New Orleans.

Whatever arrangements are made between the officer and the person hiring the police officer are between those two parties to a contract. The city does not want to be a party to the contract. They want to take $5 an hour out of what a police officer makes and fund their own office to schedule and pay these officers through the ADP payroll system (OPSE). That may seem on its face to conflict, but they simply want to be a pass-through for the information and the money. Well, that’s what they got. They got that and more details than they could possibly schedule and organize. The end result was paid details that went and continue to go unfilled, details that appear to be filled by employees of the City of New Orleans but are not. They appear to be details that are subject to some kind of supervision by the City of New Orleans. Nope.

I am not going to spend much more time on this because I did not intend for this to be a blog entry about paid details. One example: There is a school that hired a police detail to keep an eye on the kids in the morning during drop-off. The school wanted the officer to work for one hour (60 minutes). The school asked the officer to report between 7:00 am and 7:15 am and stay until 8:00 am when the school’s carpool ended. In exchange, the school was going to pay the police officer 2 hours – from 6:00 am to 8:00 am. Now, the officer is not actually performing any work for the school from 6:00 am to 7:00 am. Let’s say the officer got off of work at 7:00 am. This might have led to a situation where the officer was working for NOPD from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am and the same officer was working for the school from 6:00 am to 8:00 am.

On its face, it looks like this officer was double-dipping between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. However, the appearances are inaccurate. The officer only performed work for NOPD from 6:00 am to 7:00 am. If the officer worked in the same district that the school is located in, it might only take 2-3 minutes for the officer to get to the school. So, in our hypothetical, the officer gets to the school at 7:05 am. He then works for the school until 8:00 am.

Public Payroll Fraud states:

“A. Public payroll fraud is committed when:

(1) Any person shall knowingly receive any payment or compensation, or knowingly permit his name to be carried on any employment list or payroll for any payment or compensation from the state, for services not actually rendered by himself, or for services grossly inadequate for the payment or compensation received or to be received according to such employment list or payroll; or

(2) Any public officer or public employee shall carry, cause to be carried, or permit to be carried, directly or indirectly, upon the employment list or payroll of his office, the name of any person as employee, or shall pay any employee, with knowledge that such employee is receiving payment or compensation for services not actually rendered by said employee or for services grossly inadequate for such payment or compensation.”

La. Stat. Ann. § 14:138

Paragraph 1 of La. R.S. 14:138 addresses the person defrauding the state, and paragraph 2 addresses the person facilitating the fraud committed in paragraph 1. In our hypothetical, the question is whether the officer committed payroll fraud between 6:00 am and 7:00 am. The answer is a resounding no.

In order to violate a criminal statute, there has to be criminal intent.

“Criminal intent may be specific or general:

(1) Specific criminal intent is that state of mind that exists when the circumstances indicate that the offender actively desired the prescribed criminal consequences to follow his act or failure to act.

(2) General criminal intent is present whenever there is specific intent, and also when the circumstances indicate that the offender, in the ordinary course of human experience, must have adverted to the prescribed criminal consequences as reasonably certain to result from his act or failure to act.”

La. Stat. Ann. § 14:10

Fraud crimes are specific intent crimes. So, the officer had to actively desire the prescribed criminal consequences. La. R.S. 14:138(A)(1) only applies to work done for the government (public payroll). The officer would have had to “knowingly receive payment or compensation, or knowingly permit his name to be carried on any employment list or payroll for any payment or compensation from the state, for services not actually rendered by himself, or for services grossly inadequate for the payment or compensation received or to be received according to such employment list or payroll.”

Between 6:00 am and 7:00 am, the officer was paid by both the NOPD and the school. However, the officer performed the work required of him by the NOPD. The officer did not violate the necessary aspects of the statute by not rendering the services required of him by himself or by performing those services in a grossly inadequate manner. The school, a private organization, did not gain anything on the public’s nickel. Also, the school, a private business, is free to pay the officer however it wants.

I have this whole discussion of paid details under the heading “Why I Still Love the FOP.” Click here to read the original from July 2015. Why does this remind me why I still love the FOP? Because the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan provides me, as the attorney, and my client, all the resources we need to prove these allegations incorrect. Someone printed a report of payroll data, and then the data from that report was compared to a report of OPSE payroll data. Nobody ever verified the accuracy of the data in any of the reports. There is nothing wrong with working hard to support one’s family. That is all that is happening here. If anyone else believes differently, I don’t know what to say.

The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan will allow all FOP members to continue defending themselves until they are cleared. It will happen. I love being associated with the FOP.

It’s Friday in New Orleans and the Weather is Fine (Just Not in Every City)

I want to start by congratulating NOPD Class 195 for deciding to become New Orleans Police Officers and for sticking it out through thick and thin. These 18 officers graduate today, 9/30/2022, and will join a depleted New Orleans Police Department starting on Sunday. I think you will be inspired by the message in the video above. In fact, I think all members of the New Orleans Police Department will find inspiration in the video above.

Of course, I also want to thank the members of the New Orleans Police Department who will serve as Field Training Officers for these 18 new officers. Last, but not least, I want to thank the other officers who are still serving my community and the other communities in the City of New Orleans. You are doing a fantastic job under the circumstances and I can promise that we will continue to work on your behalf.

Next, I want to thank Sgt. Michael Sam for accompanying Sgt. Walter Powers, Jr. (Ret.), President of the Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, Sgt. Willie Jenkins, 2nd VP, and myself to the Academy yesterday. Thanks to Sgt. Jim Gallagher (Ret.) for putting the packets together before he left to go on vacation.

We are also thinking about our brothers and sisters in Florida who are coming to work every day while they too suffer the losses caused by Hurricane Ian. We have been there and we understand. Anyone who wants to make a donation to help our fellow FOP members in need in Florida can click the link below and choose the Fraternal Order of Police Foundation. NFOP DART (Disaster Area Response Team) will be deploying to effected areas of Florida on October 1, You can support their efforts by continuing today. Whether its $5.00 or $500, you can help.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the National Fraternal Order of Police provided over $1.5 Million in support to FOP members in New Orleans and Louisiana, Donations help them do that again.

Sgt. Willie Jenkins, our 2nd Vice President and the Chair of the FOP Crescent City Lodge’s Labor Committee, had been hired by the New Orleans Police Department in 2005 and graduated from the Academy on August 12, 2005, 17 days before Hurricane Katrina made its way to New Orleans. We had officers who abandoned their posts. We had officers who were made homeless by Hurricane Katrina. There were NOPD officers who took their own lives after Hurricane Katrina. I believe the experience made Sgt. Jenkins a better, more empathetic police officer. Who knows for sure what made Sgt, Jenkins into such a good supervisor, leader, officer, committee chair, and simply a good human being. I’m sure thee are many factors that went into making Sgt. Jenkins who he is today. But, Hurricane Katrina made significant contributions to the Police Officer Sgt. Willie Jenkins is today. The results of Hurricane Ian do not have to be all bad.

To FOP Members in Florida: It doesn’t have to be all bad following the destruction caused by the hurricane. Look out for your fellow police officers. If something seems off, make a point of talking to him or her. Some of your colleagues have suffered losses that seem insurmountable to them. Let them know that these losses are not insurmountable. We will do our best to help you with that. It will probably take a long time — you in Florida already know that — but it will come back together,

To the members of NOPD Class 195 graduating today, we will be there when you need us. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to be there for others. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of those opportunities to be there for others. You will appreciate it.

Reallocation of NOPD Detectives

On behalf of the Crescent City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, I wanted to thank Sgt. Jerusha Carroll and the 8th District DIU for coming up with a plan to allow DIU units across the City to supplement the platoons without using transfers. Although these moves would have been temporary, transfer denotes some degree of permanency. Sgt. Carroll and her colleagues thought there was a better way and developed a plan which they sent to me. I sent the plan to Sgt. Willie Jenkins, who is co-chairman of the FOP’s Labor Committee with P/O Jeremy Wilcox. Sgt. Jenkins consulted with others and agreed the plan was good. The plan was put in order and hand-delivered to the Superintendent’s Chief of Staff on September 16, 2022.

The plan submitted by Sgt. Jenkins can be found by clicking here.

On September 22, 2022, Sgt. Chris Landry (Ret.), Sgt. Drew Williams, Det. Jeremy Wilcox, Claude Schlesinger, Sgt. Willie Jenkins and I met with New Orleans CAO Gilbert Montaño about a number of issues. Since several of us had been involved in discussions with active officers about the anticipated transfer of detectives, we made that the first item on the agenda. CAO Montaño expressed that he thought any moves involving detectives would be temporary and that nobody would lose any pay as a result of these temporary moves. We explained that temporary or not, the special rate of pay for being in a detective assignment would not travel with the officer to a non-detective position.

It can pay off to get involved or share your ideas. In this instance, Sgt. Carroll and the 8th District DIU shared their plans to supplement the platoons without resorting to transfers. We made sure the Superintendent’s Office was aware of that plan.

If the story ended there, it would already have a happy ending. If the plan is implemented by the Superintendent, then it would be an even happier ending. So, thanks to Sgt. Carroll and her Detectives. If we continue to work together, maybe we can change the old saying 1 step forward and 2 steps back to just 2 steps forward. Thanks to Mr. Montaño as well, we can tell when someone is really listening.

Keep up the good work.

An explanation of the FOP Emblem

Mayor Cantrell’s Officer Retention and Recruitment Programs in New Orleans

The New Orleans Police Department has lost police officers at a record pace. We have not been south of 1,000 police officers for a long time. We have gotten there again. Being below 1,000 officers creates problems for police officers and the community they are trying to protect. With that in mind, Mayor Cantrell turned to the Lindner Group to work on programs designed to get the NOPD back above 1,000 and more.

It is worth pointing out that in addition to the incentive programs implemented by the administration, there are programs that are on the table to be implemented as they are feasible. Those programs include:

  • Take Home Cars – Claude Schlesinger has fought relentlessly for the NOPD to give every officer a take-home car. Due to supply chain issues that are affecting auto sales across the country, it is not all that easy to get a car;
  • An education incentive program or student loan payback program;
  • Relocation Assistance;
  • Rental Assistance; and
  • Pensionable Overtime.

https://www.wwltv.com/embeds/video/responsive/289-7f06fcba-b357-48e7-822b-924a95ab9666/iframe

<a href=”http://<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ style=”border:1px solid #e6e6e6″ src=”https://www.wwltv.com/embeds/video/responsive/289-7f06fcba-b357-48e7-822b-924a95ab9666/iframe&#8221; allowfullscreen=”true” webkitallowfullscreen=”true” mozallowfullscreen=”true”>Click here to see the press conference in its entirety.

First and foremost, none of the below programs will have any impact on the programs already in place. For example, officers will still get a lump sum payment equal to 5% of their base salary this year. Officers will also get a 5% raise in January 2023. In fact, officers will also get a 5% raise in January 2024 and another 5% raise in January 2025. In March 2023, officers will receive retention bonuses up to $20,000 based on years of service. Officers are also due to receive a $1,200 lump sum payment from the State of Louisiana State Supplemental Pay Program.

RECRUITMENT

The New Orleans Police Department has got to get to the point where they are hiring more officers than are leaving. We have been losing for years now. Some of this attrition may be due to the Consent Decree and some is due to other aspects of their employment.

The recruitment portion includes a $30,000 Recruit Incentive Package. That includes $20,000 paid to new Recruits after 1 year and then another $10,000 paid to all NOPD employees after 3 years. I think that some people may have missed that portion. The $10,000 will be paid to all commissioned employees of the New Orleans Police Department. That would include recent hires and current employees.

The Recruits will also get the pay raises mentioned above (5% – 2023, 5% 2024, and 5% 2024).

LATERAL HIRES

Lateral hires are police officers who have already been trained, are POST certified by another police department, and have been working as a police officer in another jurisdiction. Lateral hires can be put to work much faster than new recruits. While new recruits are valuable, lateral hires can get to helping our current officers faster.

New Recruits are hired and when there are enough Recruits, they attend 4-6 months of training by the Police Academy. Once that training is complete, the Recruits then have to complete Field Training. Field Training is conducted by veteran police officers and is on-the-job training. They ride in real police cars, carry real guns, and answer real calls for service. Lateral hires, however, might only have to go to the Academy for 1 or 2 months. That way they can get any legal updates they may need and they can learn what the New Orleans Police Department expects from its officers. Once they get out of the Academy, lateral hires don’t need all of the same field training. They just need to learn the differences in how NOPD handles the radio or writes a report, etc.

CURRENT OFFICERS

If the NOPD keeps losing officers at the rate they are going, we will have to schedule a fire sale and call it a day. Everyone recognizes the NOPD has to keep its current, experienced employees. This was a problem similar to the one we had in the 1990s. In the 1990s, crime was out of control and manpower was lower than it needed to be. In the 1990s, Chief Richard Pennington was appointed by Mayor Marc Morial. The NOPD looked a lot like it does now. Morial and Pennington hired John Lindner and many changes were made and it was successful (for the most part).

The big difference between now and the 1990s was that in the 1990s, the problems belonged to New Orleans. Now, however, the problems belong to many departments across the nation. The NOPD is going to have to be bolder and work harder to get out of this hole. I believe today was a good start.

Mayor Cantrell has hired John Lindner again. John Casbon of the NOPJF is in the mix again. They also brought in Fausto Pacheco, formerly chief of patrol for NYPD as COO. Someone whose job is to make an inherently dangerous job less dangerous.

The administration has changed the Public Integrity Bureau. PIB was the product of Chief Arlinda Westbrook. Now, PIB will be the product of Keith Sanchez, who was hired to replace Chief Westbrook.

Current officers will be eligible for the following benefits:

  • Current officers will still get the retention bonus to be paid in March 2023.
  • Current officers will get the 5% raises.
  • Current officers will get a Cost of Living payment this year. (2022)
  • Current officers will no longer have to pay health insurance premiums.

In addition, current employees:

  • Current officers will also get $10,000 in 2025.
  • They will be working on educational incentives
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Housing Support
  • Virtual Testing
  • Improved equipment to include take-home cars
  • upgraded technology
  • Facility upgrades and repairs

The financial incentives listed above for Recruits, Laterals, and Current employees should give the NOPD the type of advantage it needs to address the current crisis.

Click here to see CAO Gilbert Montano’s presentation.

2022 Lieutenant Exam Results

On 8-16-22, the Civil Service Department released the list of scores achieved by candidates for the position of Police Lieutenant. The list can be downloaded by clicking “Download” immediately below.

These scores will count for 1/2 of each candidate’s composite score pursuant to CAO Policy Memo 143(R).

Page 4 of CAO Policy Memo 143(R) explains how the composite score is calculated with one glaring omission — the interview score. The interview is scored High, Medium, or Low like the other areas.

We will post the final list as well, once it is available.