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.
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;
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.
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 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.
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
Improved equipment to include take-home cars
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.
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.
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.