About Donovan Livaccari

Louisiana FOP Lawyer

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.

The FOP’s Legal Defense Plan makes Membership Worth It (Updated 7/21/2022 – Previously “We Do Win Sometimes”)

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.

UPDATE: 7/13/2022

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.

UPDATE: 7/20/2022

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.

UPDATE 7/21/2022

Click here to see the New Orleans Civil Service Commission’s decision in the appeal of Sgt. Kevin Thompson v. NOPD.

Making the Most out of the FOP’s Legal Defense Plan

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.

2022 Lieutenant’s Exam

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.

Police Details in New Orleans – Part 2

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.

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.

OPSE

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.